Israel set to swear in new government after three deadlocked elections

18 Mai, 2020, 09:52 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Israel swears in unity govt PM insists on West Bank annexation

After months of political turmoil, three neck-to-neck votes and an infight that delayed the ceremony initially slated for Thursday, Israel's new unity government has finally been sworn in, but its survivability and the country's political future will exclusively depend on the ability of its co-leaders to reach a consensus.

A senior USA administration official told NBC News last month that Washington's recognition of Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank was conditional on the Israeli government negotiating with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in Trump's peace plan.

"The time has come to apply Israeli law to them and write another glorious chapter in Zionist history", he said.

Netanyahu said his incoming government - to be sworn in under a hard-fought deal with his rival-turned ally Benny Gantz after more than a year of gridlock - should apply Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.

On Wednesday, Netanyahu announced that he has succeeded in forming a unity government in letters sent to President Reuven Rivlin, and Blue and White party Chairman Benny Gantz, who was temporarily serving as the speaker of Knesset (Israeli Parliament). Mr Gantz, a former military chief of staff, had initially vowed never to join a government led by Mr Netanyahu because the latter faces criminal charges.

Netanyahu's nationalist base is eager to push for annexation before the USA elections in November - after which Trump could be replaced by Joe Biden, who has said he opposes unilateral annexation.

One of the chief criticisms of the new system is the new post of "alternate prime minister" which some suggest could allow Mr Netanyahu to remain in office even after the swap and throughout his corruption trial.

Their controversial power-sharing deal calls for Netanyahu to serve as prime minister for the government's first 18 months before being replaced by Gantz for the next 18 months.

Earlier, Modi was among the first global leaders to congratulate Netanyahu on the formation of his coalition government after months of political uncertainty.

Fighting the coronavirus and improving Israel's battered economy have also been listed as the new government's policy priorities.

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He is also pressing ahead with a controversial plan to annex part of the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians - who claim all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem - have rejected the plan, dismissing it as biased towards Israel and a denial of their rights.

Some experts warn that Jordan may back away from its historic 1994 peace deal with Israel if the Jewish state tries to annex the strategically crucial Jordan Valley border region.

Mr Netanyahu says he is the victim of a political witch-hunt.

Gantz and incoming Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi are both known to have reservations about annexation and the worldwide backlash and did not mention the issue in his Knesset speech on Sunday.

The government was to be sworn-in on Thursday but internal squabbles in the ruling Likud party over ministerial claims postponed it.

"My friends and I chose unity to defend Israeli citizens, not just from the challenges from outside our borders but also from the hatred eating away at us from within and harming our resilience", he said.

Benjamin Netanyahu will lead a fifth government in Israel.

The large cabinet and additional funds needed for the new position of alternate prime minister have prompted criticism as Israel seeks to address the economic fallout from Covid-19, which has infected more than 16,500 Israelis and caused more than 260 deaths.



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