Deal for unity govt in Israel, Netanyahu to be PM first

Netanyahu must appear in court during next corruption trial hearing

Jerusalem: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival, Benny Gantz, on Monday reached an agreement for an emergency unity government, in which both will hold the top post in rotation, reports said.

The deal, signed on Monday night at the Prime Minister’s residence in Jerusalem amid near-total lockdown, brings political stability to Israel after three inconclusive elections and a year of political paralysis, the BBC reported.

Both men had faced calls to avoid a fourth election and form a coalition to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

The Israeli Health Ministry has reported 13,654 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and 173 associated deaths. Some 150 patients are in a serious condition in hospital.

Netanyahu tweeted a picture of the Israeli flag and a statement from his Likud party saying the deal established a “national emergency government”.

Gantz, in a tweet, said: “We have prevented a fourth election. We will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens.”

The agreement is expected to see Netanyahu remain as Prime Minister for 18 months, during which time his delayed trial on corruption charges is due to start. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Gantz will reportedly start off as Defence Minister, before taking over as Prime Minister late next year, the BBC said.