Pandemic Prompts Coalition Government



The coronavirus appears to have accomplished in Israel what three inconclusive elections and long hours of debate have not: an emergency coalition government.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger, Benny Gantz, announced Monday that given the pandemic, they would join forces in a three-year détente that would keep Netanyahu in office for 18 months, followed by Gantz taking over for a similar tenure.

Gantz had previously insisted he would not take part in such an effort, citing several areas of major disagreement with Netanyahu. But the urgency of battling the virus apparently overcame his reluctance.

One of the biggest issues in dispute has been Netanyahu’s insistence on annexation of large areas of the occupied West Bank. The agreement on an emergency government delays such a move until at least July 1 and says the action must be done in a way that safeguards Israel’s interests, “including the needs for preserving regional stability, protecting existing peace agreements and aspiring for future ones,” The New York Times reports.

The Times added: “But it leaves those determinations up to the government and says that Mr. Gantz is only entitled to ‘consultation’ with Mr. Netanyahu on annexation, not a veto.”

After so many false starts and missed opportunities, no one would be surprised if the new agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz fails to make it to the finish line. But it would be nice if the warring factions could put their differences aside to combat the common coronavirus enemy. 

Maybe the cooperative effort will even help them to bridge other gaps as well.