The Netanyahu era in Israel looks like might be finally coming to a close. The key word remains might, however.
The leader of Israel's Blue and White party Benny Gantz has won recommendations from 61 members of the Knesset, paving the way for him to receive the mandate from President Reuven Rivlin to form a new government after Israel’s third elections.
Why it matters: The fact that Gantz managed to secure 61 recommendations means that Rivlin by law has to grant him the mandate. This will allow Gantz to take control of the Knesset, appoint the speaker from his party, control the main committees and start pushing legislation that could prevent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government due to his corruption indictments.
The big picture: The coronavirus crisis has further destabilized the Israeli political system.Netanyahu, who is heading an interim government, took several extreme measures due to the health crisis — including shutting down the courts and making it impossible for his trial to begin on Tuesday.The Jerusalem district court announced it would postpone the trial until May 24.
In the last few days, Netanyahu has called on Gantz to join an emergency government or form a unity government in order to combat the coronavirus crisis. Netanyahu’s proposal included him staying on as prime minister for the next two years while his trial is underway. Gantz and his party claimed Netanyahu’s proposal was a nonstarter, deeming it a political trick intended to prevent Gantz from receiving the mandate from the president.
Between the lines: Gantz secured the mandate after the Arab Joint List recommended him to Rivlin. This was a historic move by the Arab Israeli party that many view as a sign that the Arab minority, which turned out to vote in high numbers in the last elections, wants to further integrate into society and have a stake in the government.
The problem is though that while Gantz will get his chance to form a government, there are at least two of the 61 Knesset members recommending Gantz who have said they will refuse to join a coalition that includes the Arab Joint List party, meaning Gantz will fail at forming a coalition.
If Gantz can't talk them into joining, then Netanyahu will remain in charge, and we'd be looking at a fourth round of elections later. Who knows when they will be with COVID-19 as a legitimate concern?
At least Gantz isn't falling for Bibi's six-month emergency government trick, because he'll never surrender power in that case when the six months are up, I guarantee it.
We'll see what happens.