Government Swearing-In Postponed to Thursday Due to Pompeo’s Visit

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel unity government
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz (L.) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu signing the coalition unity agreement, April 20.

The new government will be sworn in on Thursday, a day after initially planned, due to the visit of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, who also currently serves as Knesset speaker, announced Monday.

Prior to the swearing-in ceremony, the Knesset will be required to vote in a new Knesset speaker, as Gantz will be sworn in as alternate prime minister in the government.

The new speaker will be a member of the Likud, though it has not yet been determined which MK will assume the position.

Until now, Blue and White has refused to agree that MK Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who previously served as speaker, take the position once again. If the party continues to refuse to accept Edelstein, it is expected that MK Yariv Levin (Likud) will be given the position. Gantz will need to resign from his post as speaker not less than 48 hours before the swearing-in is called for.

Pompeo will make a lightning trip to Israel to meet with Netanyahu and Gantz on Wednesday as the Trump administration tries to return to business as normal by resuming governmental travel and reopening an economy devastated by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Pompeo will “discuss U.S. and Israeli efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as regional security issues related to Iran’s malign influence,” spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a statement. “The U.S. commitment to Israel has never been stronger than under President Trump’s leadership. The United States and Israel will face threats to the security and prosperity of our peoples together. In challenging times, we stand by our friends, and our friends stand by us.”

Pompeo and his small traveling party will need exemptions from Israel’s own virus restrictions that bar foreign visitors from entering and require returning Israelis to self-quarantine for 14 days. Pompeo will be on the ground in Israel for only several hours on Wednesday before returning to Washington from his first overseas trip since making an unannounced visit to Afghanistan in March.