Netanyahu rival voted in as speaker, paving way for unity government

Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main political rival, was elected Speaker of the Israeli Parliament on Thursday, paving the way for a government to be formed for the emergency unit.

“To take advantage of the possibility of forming a national emergency government, I decided to propose my candidacy for the position of spokesman for the Knesset,” said Gantz after the vote. “These are unusual times and they require unusual decisions.”

Gantz’s appointment leaves the door open to his centrist blue-and-white party to form a coalition government with Netanyahu’s Likud right-wing party in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

However, his decision to appoint himself a spokesman appears to have cost him the unity of the blue-and-white party, which failed to take power in three inconclusive elections in less than a year.

In the last elections on March 2, neither Likud, Blue and White won enough seats to form a majority government, even with the support of smaller parties.

Israeli media reported On Thursday, the two leaders of Blue and White, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, petitioned for separation from the rest of the party in the Knesset, just before Gantz’s nomination was voted on.

Blue and White had planned to appoint another legislator who is part of another faction of the party and use the position to push for laws that would prevent an accused legislator from becoming prime minister. In November, Netanyahu was charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Likud struck back and said that if blue and white followed this approach, all discussions about the formation of a unity government between the two camps would end – a step that could involve Israel in a fourth election.

The political crisis in Israel has continued although the country is fighting the outbreak of the global corona virus. The Israeli Ministry of Health confirmed on Thursday that more than 2,600 patients have been treated for COVID-19. Eight deaths have been recorded so far.

The stake for Netanyahu is particularly high, which should be brought to court this month for allegations of corruption, but was able to postpone his trial due to the outbreak of the corona virus.

According to legal experts, Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, faces up to 10 years imprisonment for bribery and a maximum of three years for fraud and breach of trust. He denied any wrongdoing and said he was the victim of a “witch hunt”.

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