Coronavirus: Israel PM Netanyahu enters quarantine after aide tests positive

30 Mars, 2020, 17:07 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Israeli PM Netanyahu self-isolating after aide tests positive for coronavirus

Israel is headed for a unity government after opposition leader Benny Gantz moved towards an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, disappointing voters who had hoped to bring down the right-wing premier.

Gantz doubled down on his decision, saying it is "what my nation needs" during the coronavirus pandemic.

The statement did not mention the positive test of a staffer, but multiple Israeli media outlets have reported the case, which was confirmed to AFP by separate sources.

But that move has provoked an implosion of the anti-Netanyahu block Gantz had led.

It also drew an angry response from some among the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who turned out to support Gantz's coalition in three elections in the past year.

Netanyahu is accused of a range of offences including receiving improper gifts and offering a media mogul lucrative regulatory changes in exchange for favourable coverage. "It's exactly what I did not want to happen, to see Gantz actually partner with Netanyahu", said Tami Golan, 46, who voted for Gantz in all three elections.

Netanyahu was already scheduled to undergo a coronavirus by Tuesday, having previously tested negative on March 15.

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Mr Gantz (60) expressed regret that his decision had split his centrist alliance but said dragging the country towards a fourth election would distract from fighting the coronavirus and aiding the economy.

The two men held talks through Saturday night 'aimed at establishing a national emergency government to deal with the corona crisis, ' a joint statement said. According to the report, health officials were deliberating on what steps the premier should take following notification of her diagnosis. "We will lift the country out of economic trauma", Mr Gantz wrote on his Facebook page.

At least one member of Mr Gantz's own Israel Resilience party came out against him yesterday - a lawmaker from Israel's Arab Druze minority.

But with Mr Netanyahu's coalition of right-wing parties needing only three more seats to reach a majority in the 120-member parliament, the early defection from Mr Gantz's 15-strong faction was unlikely to put a dent in moves towards a unity government. He has said he is guilty of all accusations against him.

Gantz was tasked with forming a government following March 2 elections - a task he had already been unable to complete after two national polls past year - and there was no guarantee he would succeed this time, given rifts within the anti-Netanyahu bloc. Mr Netanyahu denies the charges.

But Gantz has lacked enough support on the centre and left to form a coalition after being asked by President Reuven Rivlin to try to form a government following the election.

Although no official details have been provided of the likely makeup of a future government, Netanyahu has proposed an 18-month premiership terms that he would first lead and then hand over to Gantz.

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