Bibi Steps to a Coalition Government
April 01, 2020
"Unity" isn't a word people hear a lot in the Middle East, but in Israel, it might be the theme behind a new coalition government. In a world full of depressing news, America's ally might be on the verge of one of celebrating a development no one thought possible: a two-party rule.
With a grim backdrop -- Israel's coronavirus infection rates are climbing -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival are on the verge of an unprecedented coalition. "It took three elections and an unprecedented health crisis" to get there, NRO points out, but the Blue and White Party's Benny Gantz is nearing a deal to join forces with his chief rival. To CBN's Chris Mitchell, who's on the ground in Israel, it was a stunning turn of events.
After a year of political paralysis, Chris told us from Jerusalem, "I would say that this must be an answer to a lot of Israelis' prayers." For years, no one has been able to accomplish the kind of coalition government Gantz and Netanyahu are discussing. Right now, the negotiations are still very fluid, he points out. "It's not like the U.S. system," Chris explains. The questions now are about other seats. "Who's going to get the defense ministry? The foreign ministry, the health ministry? The justice ministry? So there are still things to be worked out."
But, word there, Chris says is that "they could be sworn in the coalition government by next Monday. Some people speculated it could be after Passover, which will be April 8 to the 15th. So maybe the middle of April. But it's very encouraging for people that had been hoping that there would be some sort of political stability here in Israel, particularly during the pandemic." So far, he points out, that's really proving to be one of the motivating factors behind this breakthrough: the need for Israel to address this emergency with a unity government. "And Benny Gantz, I think he was the one that really said, 'Okay, let's put the political differences aside.' He had been wooed by Netanyahu for weeks... And he finally said yes. He's paying a political price. But I think it's for the betterment of the country right now."
Under the agreement, Netanyahu would serve as prime minister until September of 2021, at which point, he would transition to the deputy prime minister under Gantz. Of course, here in America, where divisions run so deep, the idea of a Democrat and Republican serving together seems impossible. In Israel, where politics are -- as Chris called them -- a "combat sport," could they work effectively together? "They have worked together in the past," he reminded listeners. "People may not know that Gantz was the former IDF chief of staff. And so they worked together on Israel's security for probably... three, if not four, years. So they do have a working relationship. They have a history together. So hopefully, because of this crisis, that both of them can work together for the good of Israel, particularly during this time."
If they succeed, it would be an inspiring story for the rest of the world, including America, to watch. If they can put their political differences and the past behind them, imagine what it could mean for the betterment and protection of Israel. It's certainly a lesson in cooperation and putting country ahead of party and personal aspirations.
Tony Perkins's Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.