Blue and White leader Benny Gantz asked for additional time on Motzoei Shabbos to try to form a unity government with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, to end more than a year of political deadlock.
A 28-day mandate to put together a governing coalition, following an inconclusive March 2 election, expires on April 14. Gantz asked President Reuven Rivlin for a 14-day extension to the mandate.
Gantz had run on a promise not to serve in a government with Netanyahu, citing the prime minister’s indictment on corruption charges. Netanyahu denies those charges.
But in a reversal, Gantz said the coronavirus crisis had made a national emergency government with Netanyahu’s Likud party an imperative.
“The political, health and social crisis have brought me to the decision that even at a heavy political and personal price, I will do all I can to establish a government with the Likud,” Gantz wrote in a letter to the president, published by his party.
Rivlin gave no immediate word on whether he would grant more time to Gantz, who in his letter said the two political rivals appeared close to a final agreement.
According to reports, the parties have already agreed on a power-sharing deal in which Netanyahu would serve as prime minister for 18 months, after which Gantz would take over. Israel has held three inconclusive elections since last April.