As Benjamin Netanyahu the most important message of this year, the press conference room is empty. As a precaution, the event should only be followed via the livestream. It is, of course, about Corona. The prime minister sits alone in front of the camera; his ministers were not there this Thursday evening because the room was not large enough to meet the new security standards, Netanyahu says. One is: “Keep your distance. Ideally two meters, at least one. ”
He uses undivided attention to explain the new corona regulations, from the largest – closure of all schools and universities – to the smallest: the prime minister pulls out a handkerchief to explain to his people how to properly blow their noses.
Israel is facing an unprecedented challenge, says Netanyahu. He compares Corona to the 1918 Spanish flu that cost millions of lives. He quotes the “analytical” German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who assumed that 60 to 70 percent of the population is infected will. Israel has a population of nine million. The death rate of corona infected people is two to four percent, says Netanyahu. “Do the math … that means a very, very large number of deaths.”
Everything must be done to prevent this, he concludes. “I therefore call for the formation of a national emergency government, if possible, this evening.”
So what three elections failed to do is now done by the corona virus: Israel finally gets a new government after more than a year. The stalemate between opposition leader Benny Gantz’s mid-alliance blue and white and Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud appears to have broken.
Benny Gantz has already given his consent. During the night, the two party leaders phoned to discuss how to proceed. President Reuven Rivlin cheered via Twitterthat the two camps get together. He had previously advocated a grand coalition. On Sunday, he will officially commission one of the two to form a government.
However, harmonious agreement in the face of the crisis is not to be expected. The first statements of the two arch rivals are already bursting with dissonance. Gantz demands that all eight parties be involved in the emergency government – including the Common List of Arab Parties.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, let Gantz know directly: “Terrorist supporters cannot be part of the government, neither in normal times nor in an emergency.” Netanyahu had described the MPs of the Arab parties as such in the election campaign.
“Who can save lives can also make decisions”
The top candidate of the Common List, Ayman Odeh, criticized Netanyahu for his continuous “agitation against 20 percent of the population in the face of a global health crisis” and referred to the staff of the Israeli hospitals, who are largely of Arab origin. “If we can save lives, we can make decisions,” said Odeh.
Benny Gantz had tried the past few days with the help of the Arab parties to form a minority government. The plan should now be finally off the table. The crisis calls for a stable government. According to surveys, half of the Jewish population also refuses to allow Arab MPs to participate in the government. Gantz tried to break a taboo. Two of his own party members and the left Gescher party refused to follow him.
Now has Netanyahu got the upper hand again. “Blue and white walks on a very fine line,” says Tal Schneider, Israel’s best-known political blogger and correspondent for the newspaper “Globes”. “On the one hand, they are expected to act responsibly and to put their political interests behind. On the other hand, Netanyahu continues to do politics even in the crisis. ”
After the second election last fall, President Rivlin proposed a grand coalition based on the “Israeli model”: the two top candidates were to share the term, as in 1984, when neither the Likud nor the Labor Party had a majority. At that time, Yitzhak Shamir and Shimon Peres agreed to take turns as prime ministers.
The idea failed in the fall because Netanyahu insisted on being the first to head the government instead of letting Gantz take the lead. In the third election just two weeks ago, the Likud got three more mandates; So Netanyahu will certainly not think about it and doesn’t seem ready to consent to the rotation principle at all.
According to Haaretz, he has already instructed his ministers not to refer to Rivlin’s proposal. This time you won. There is no reason to participate in blue and white on an equal footing.
Whatever an emergency government may look like in the end, it will be a temporary marriage. After that, new elections could take place again. In any case, scenes of a big fraternization of the two opponents are not to be expected after three bitter election campaigns. In Israel, all physical contact is currently “prohibited” anyway.
Netanyahu also explained this in his daily Corona updates: “We Israelis love to hug each other. We love to shake hands. We love to kiss. Stop it!”