After nearly a year of political instability, Israel may finally have a chance to get a stable government. The leader of Blue and White party and PM Benjamin Netanyahu's prime opponent Benny Gantz has won a recommendation from 61 members of Parliament, paving the way for him to receive the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government after Israel’s third elections. The Israeli Parliament — Knesset — has 120 members, which means Gantz has secured a simple majority.
PM Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party won 36 Knesset seats in the March 2 national election — the third vote within a year — compared to Blue and White’s 33. However, Netanyahu's attempt to cobble up a right-wing bloc again failed.
The announcement comes after Avigdor Lieberman's Centre-Right Yisrael Beiteinu party and the Joint List of Arab-majority parties recommended Benny Gantz have the first try to form a coalition earlier on Sunday. Previously, Netanyahu had called on Gantz to form a unity government in order to combat the novel Coronavirus crisis. The PM's proposal included him staying on in his post for at least two years while his corruption trial is underway. This proposal was rejected on grounds of political opportunism.
Netanyahu got an important reprieve on Sunday when the Jerusalem court handling the case postponed his trial for two months because of restrictions connected to the Coronavirus outbreak. Netanyahu was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday to face charges of fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in connection to a series of scandals. But following the emergency health measures the government enacted restricting the gathering of people in public places, the court announced that it was pushing back the hearing until May 24.
Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from wealthy friends and offering to exchange favours with powerful media moguls. The long-ruling Israeli leader denies any wrongdoing and says he is the victim of a media-orchestrated witch hunt.
(With agency inputs)