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Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz sign unity government agreement

Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz sign unity government agreement
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE and challenger Benny Gantz broke an impasse by agreeing to form a unity government after three elections in the past year.

Under the agreement, Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister for 18 months before being replaced by Gantz.

The two leaders have been negotiating on forming a government since March, according to Haaretz.

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Gantz’s coalition dissolved after he entered talks with Netanyahu. Last week, his mandate to form a government lapsed due to a stalemate with the prime minister.

After the two failed to reach an agreement, President Reuven Rivlin tasked the Israeli Knesset with forming a coalition, prompting a 21-day period in which any lawmaker could form a coalition if they secured 61 signatures from within the parliament.

The new agreement comes while Netanyahu is under indictment on bribery, fraud and breach of trust charges, although the coronavirus pandemic has halted court proceedings. The trial is set to begin May 24, according to Haaretz.

The governing deal will avert a fourth election, but also contravenes Gantz’s vow to remove Netanyahu from office, a major plank of his campaign. The two are set to meet again Monday evening.

The announcement was made a day after thousands of Israelis turned out to protest, while maintaining social distancing measures, what they considered overreach by Netanyahu’s government during the pandemic, according to Haaretz.

“They are fighting to get into the government,” Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party and formerly a Blue and White member, told protesters. “Telling themselves stories. They say, 'We’ll fight from the inside.' You won’t fight from the inside. You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re inside, you’re part of it."