Israel’s new government ends months of political paralysis

Jerusalem, May 14 (efe-epa).- Israel’s new government will be sworn in on Thursday after three inconclusive elections and a political stalemate that has paralysed the country for more than a year.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the longest-serving premier in the country’s history, will share the office of prime minister on a rotational basis with his former rival centrist Benny Gantz.

The government inauguration was delayed by one day with the swearing-in scheduled for 10pm.

Netanyahu, who faces a trial on corruption charges this month, will take the reins for a period of 18 months, before switching places in October 2021 with Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Alliance.

During Netanyahu’s time as leader Gantz will serve as deputy head of government and defence minister.

The emergency government will primarily focus for the first six months on the coronavirus and related economic crisis, with the exception of the issue of advancing plans to annex West Bank land with settlements, starting on 1 July.

The swearing-in came a day after United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Israel to voice Washington’s support for the new government.

It was the first trip by a foreign official to the country since it shut its borders in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The government will initially have 32 ministers and is expected to expand to 36 after six months, according to the agreement sealed on Wednesday night.

Gantz vowed not to serve with the indicted Netanyahu in the past three rounds of election but agreed eventually, saying Israel needed political stability to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.

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