On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel gave up on his attempt to form a unified government and handed the responsibility over to Benny Gantz, a former army chief and political newcomer.
“The time of spin is over, and it is now time for action,” Gantz’s Blue and White party said, according to the New York Times. “Blue and White is determined to form the liberal unity government, led by Benny Gantz, that the people of Israel voted for a month ago.”
In an election earlier this year, Israeli votes tied Gantz and Netanyahu for the office of prime minister. But since Netanyahu had more support in Parliament, he was tasked to form a government. When his long-time ally, Avigdor Liberman suddenly defected and refused to side with Netanyahu and his “ultra-Orthodox Jewish partners,” support shifted and forced another election in September.
Netanyahu barely lost the second election but still retained a larger support in Parliament and was given another attempt to form a government.
But the long-time prime minister was unable to accomplish the task. According to Netanyahu, he “worked relentlessly, in the open but also in secret, in an effort to form a broad national unity government with Mr. Gantz.” Gantz refused in part because of the prime minister’s legal troubles, including serious charges such as bribery.
The New York Times predicts Gantz will face an uphill battle to form a unified government. Yet, he’s banking on the Israelis’ resistance to a third election, which would happen should Gantz fail to form a unified government. He also argues that “80 percent of Israelis agree on 80 percent of the issues” and that he can form “a broad government with conservative partners.”
Despite the handoff to Gantz, Netanyahu is showing no signs of giving up. He posted a photo of himself and President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Monday night, saying that the two discussed Syria and other situations. He also posted a video to Twitter, encouraging his country that a unified government with him as the lead is still possible.
“This has always been the solution, and this remains the solution,” he said.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Lori Mizrahi/Stringer