Gantz and Netanyahu granted extra time for unity government talks

The Likud and Blue & White leaders now have 48 hours to agree a deal for Israel, which has had a caretaker government for 18 months


Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin has granted the country’s two main political leaders extra time to try and form a unity government after 18 months of deadlock.

Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz jointly asked for the 48-hour extension to the mandate to form a coalition, giving them until the end of Wednesday to strike a deal.

It came after Mr Gantz said in a televised appeal to Mr Netanyahu on Monday night: “This is our moment of truth, it’s either an emergency national unity government or a redundant fourth election.”

A statement from Mr Rivlin said he “made this decision after also speaking to Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu”, but added Mr Netanyahu did not confirm he is close to signing an agreement that would lead to a unity government.

A caretaker government led by Mr Netanyahu has been in place since December 2018, when the first of three elections was called.

Recent polls suggest Mr Netanyahu’s management of the coronavirus crisis has reinvigorated his popularity and Likud could win 40 seats if yet another election takes place.

The same Channel 12 poll suggested Mr Gantz’s Blue & White, meanwhile, would fall to 19 seats, down from the 33 it won in an election only a month ago.

Blue & White has split over Mr Gantz’s decision to enter unity talks with Mr Netanyahu, something he had promised not to do.

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