Time Running Out for Unity Government

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz in November, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Time is running out for the nascent unity government to overcome a series of legal and political obstacles to its formation, but members of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s‏‏ Likud party voiced optimism on Wednesday that by the end of next week Israel would have a new government.

In the Knesset, Yesh Atid-Telem, former partners in Benny Gantz’ Blue and White, were working hard to block passage of bills that would enable implementation of the coalition agreement, which among other things provides for the rotational premiership that would see Netanyahu serve as prime minister for18 months, to be succeeded automatically by Gantz.

Gantz, who is the interim Knesset speaker, added three extra voting days in the Knesset plenum on Thursday, Sunday and next Sunday to allow time for the passage of bills, despite the opposition’s filibuster.

“I am cautiously optimistic we will accomplish our goal of passing the bills on time,” Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzburg, who chairs a special Knesset committee formed to pass the bills, told The Jerusalem Post. “We knew there would be a filibuster, but we are actually ahead of schedule,” he said.

“On time” means before the deadline for the Knesset to form a government by next Thursday. If that deadline passes without the issues being resolved, the country will have to face a fourth round of elections in 16 months.

On the legal track, the High Court will be hearing arguments on Sunday and Monday regarding the constitutionality of the coalition agreement, as well as the overriding question of whether a prime minister under indictment is eligible to form a government.

The Likud leadership is betting that the High Court will not intervene and force yet another election campaign when political stability is finally at hand.

However, on Wednesday night Channel 13 reported that the judges actually are likely to strike down parts of the coalition agreement as being unconstitutional.