Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Likud) and Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz (Blue&White) signed an agreement on Monday evening to form a unity government, averting what would have been Israel’s fourth election since April 2019.
The new government’s cabinet will consist of between 32 to 36 seats as well as 14 deputy ministers. Sixteen of the ministerial positions will be going to Blue&White.
Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister for a year-and-a-half, and then be rotated out by Gantz. Each will serve as the other’s vice-prime minister. The official title will be ראש הממשלה החילופי which translates as the “alternate prime minister.” Neither one can fire the other.
The agreement includes some complicated clauses designed to protect Gantz and Netanyahu from pulling a fast one on the other.
For the first half of the term, the Likud’s bloc will receive the following portfolios: Finance, Public Security, Transportation, Housing, Education, Environmental Protection, Energy, Jerusalem, Health, Religious Services, and other minor portfolios.
The Likud, but not Yuli Edelstein, will initially get the Speaker of the Knesset position.
Blue&White’s bloc, with only 17 seats, is getting the Foreign Ministry, Defense, Justice, Immigration and Absorption, Culture and Sports, Economy, Social Welfare, Communications, Agriculture, Strategic Affairs, Tourism, Diaspora Affairs, and Social Equality and some others.
It appears that Shas will probably keep the Ministry of the Interior, and UTJ the Health Ministry.
Yamina (Naftali Bennett) has been strongly hinting it may not be joining this coalition and will sit in the opposition. Netanyahu did not immediately call to update Bennett after the signing. They only spoke later on Monday evening and agreed to meet after Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) which ends Tuesday evening.
The new government will begin to apply sovereignty on July 1, 2020, the exact parameters of what will actually be included and when are not defined, but will definitely be restricted by other considerations.
Orly Levy will be a minister under the Likud. This government will include the first female minister from Ethiopia, the first female Haredi minister, and the first Arab minister in ten years.
The government can stay in place for 4 years.
Yair Lapid will be the head of the Opposition.
Other details in the agreement:
The “Norwegian Law” will be passed, which will allow a certain number of ministers to safely quit their Knesset positions, but automatically regain them if they are no longer ministers in the government. After quitting, the next person in the party’s list will enter the Knesset in their stead.
The Alternate Prime Minister will have significant veto powers over the other on a wide range of issues.
The Left-Right bloc distribution will be maintained throughout the term of the government.
The National Basic Law will not be ammended.