Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is set to partner Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a unity government, serving initially as Foreign Minister but then taking over from Netanyahu as prime minister in September 2021, according to a reported deal taking shape this afternoon.
Reports say that Gantz’s unexpected decision to join forces with Netanyahu immediately led to the collapse of Blue and White, with the party’s second in command Yair Lapid rejecting the move and at heading into opposition with others from his Yesh Atid component of Blue and White.
Lapid had reportedly told Gantz he preferred that Israel go to fourth elections rather than see Blue and White partner Netanyahu in power.
The coalition is said likely to constitute 78-79 Knesset Members — Likud, Gantz’s Israel Resilience, Labor, Yamina, Shas and United Torah Judaism — according to Channel 12. That would leave Lapid’s Yesh Atid, Ya’alon’s Telem, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, Meretz and the mainly Arab Joint List in opposition.
The unity deal was taking shape as the Knesset met to vote for a new speaker, following Likud speaker Yuli Edelstein’s resignation on Wednesday. Gantz offered himself as the sole candidate for the Knesset speaker’s job, which he is set to hold only for a brief period while the terms of the unity coalition are finalised.
He will then serve as Foreign Minister for the first 18 months of the emergency unity government, under the terms of the reported deal, before succeeding Netanyahu as Prime Minister.
Gantz was tasked by Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin on 16th March with forming a government after 61 lawmakers backed him as prime minister, and given 28 days to do so.