Cabinet post disputes delay Israel unity government inauguration

New coalition deal will see Netanyahu rule for 18 months, after which Gantz will take over as prime minister [Reuters]

The planned inauguration of an Israeli unity government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been postponed until Sunday, in last-minute wrangling over cabinet appointments, an official statement said.

Under a coalition deal with his former election rival, centrist Benny Gantz, Netanyahu would serve as prime minister for 18 months before the former armed forces chief replaces him.

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Their unity government deal ends more than a year of political deadlock in which three inconclusive elections were held.

Netanyahu asked his rival-turned-ally Gantz to postpone the swearing-in so he could finalise cabinet assignments among members of his right-wing Likud party, said a joint statement from Likud and Gantz’s centrist Blue and White political alliance.

“Gantz agreed to Netanyahu’s request,” the statement said.

Netanyahu and former military chief Gantz agreed to a three-year coalition government last month, after more than 500 days of political deadlock and three inconclusive elections in less than a year.

Through the three weeks since the pact was signed, leaders from various parties have haggled for key positions.

In a letter sent to President Reuven Rivlin late on Wednesday, Netanyahu, in power since 2009, announced he had formed a government.

Gantz will be alternate prime minister – a new position in Israeli governance – for the first half of the deal, before he and Netanyahu swap roles.

The unity agreement would also leave Netanyahu in power throughout a trial due to begin on May 24, the first such proceedings against a sitting Israeli prime minister.

Pro-Netanyahu paper Israel Hayom wrote on Thursday that the leader had signed off on his own “expiration date” after the longest tenure as prime minister in Israeli history.

SOURCE:
News agencies

News Source : Al Jazeera English

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