Unity government hails end of political deadlock in Israel

Jerusalem, May 14 (efe-epa).- A unity government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz was sworn in on Sunday ending months of political deadlock in Israel

The leaders announced the decision to form a government last month in order to face the coronavirus crisis.

“We decided together to put aside divisions and face the challenges that the pandemic poses for health, the economy and society,” Netanyahu said in his speech to the Israeli Parliament (Knesset) amid interruptions from opposition members who accused the leader of corruption.

The prime minister will face a trial in a week’s time on three separate charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

Netanyahu has described the indictment as a “witch hunt” and denies any wrongdoing.

The prime minister has said the government will focus on boosting employment, which has been battered by the pandemic and left 1.2 million people unemployed in Israel.

Netanyahu also announced the time had come to start the annexation of Palestinian territories in the West Bank, “as a new chapter in the history of Zionism” and promised “to lead this historical process.”

After lengthy negotiations, the unity government was backed by a parliamentary majority that will see Netanyahu as prime minister for the first year and a half after which Gantz will succeed him for a further 18 months.

Gantz supported the controversial power-sharing deal in order to avoid a fourth election after three elections in less than a year, despite the fact his Blue and White electoral campaign focused on ousting Netanyahu and branding Netanyahu as corrupt.

But Gantz changed his rhetoric once the coronavirus outbreak struck Israel saying the alternative to a unity government was “a sort of civil war” and appealed to reconciliation and to building mechanisms of trust between him and Bibi.

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