by: Kate Norman
Monday, 18 May 2020 | After three national elections in a one-year period, a global pandemic and delays caused by political bickering, Israel’s 35 government was finally sworn in on Sunday.
Israel’s unity government, which puts an end to an 18-month political stalemate without a fully functioning government, will see Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu serve for another 18 months with former rival Benny Gantz serving as defense minister and in the new position of alternate prime minister. In November 2021, Netanyahu will step down and Gantz will assume the premiership with Netanyahu taking on the role of alternate prime minister.
The vote to approve the new Knesset (Parliament) passed 73–46.
The 35th Knesset will be Israel’s largest government in history, with Netanyahu and Gantz creating new ministerial roles in order to divvy out enough positions to satisfy each of their political blocs.
The government will begin with 32 ministerial positions while the Knesset is in its initial six-month “emergency stage,” dedicated largely to combatting the COVID-19 crisis and its economic fallout. Once the government exits the emergency stage, four more ministers will be added, bringing the government to a whopping 36 members.
For the sake of comparison, the Jerusalem Post noted that Israel’s government only consisted of 12–13 ministers between 1949 and 1955.
After the new Knesset was sworn in Sunday, Netanyahu stood before them and outlined the objectives for the new government to tackle. The first priority will be containing the coronavirus and preventing another outbreak. Netanyahu appointed MK (member of Knesset) Yuli Edelstein as Health Minister to take on the job.
The second objective is reviving the economy, which will fall to incoming Finance Minister Israel Katz of Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The third objective, Netanyahu said, is halting Iranian aggression in the region.
Number four is opposing the potential probe by the International Criminal Court into alleged war crimes by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which Netanyahu called a “strategic threat” to the Jewish state and its military.
The fifth objective is one that Netanyahu campaigned on during the three elections since April 2019: applying Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, which could begin as early as July.
In his address to the Knesset, Gantz proclaimed that Israel, after more than 500 days, was putting an end to the “worst political crisis in its history” and called for the “era of reconciliation.”
Posted on May 18, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, May 18, 2020)
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State/Ron Przysucha/flickr.com
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