Netanyahu finalizes coalition agreements, government to be sworn in Thursday

The prime minister completed the final step in forming Israel’s new government, submitting official notice to President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday night.

By Associated Press

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Wednesday he gained the support of enough lawmakers to form a government, a step that will send him back to the premiership after three inconclusive elections.

Netanyahu’s Likud Party and the ultra-Orthodox Shas faction came to a coalition agreement Wednesday. That, along with an earlier deal with the Blue and White party led by former army chief Benny Gantz, gives Netanyahu the majority he needed to form a government in Israel’s 120-seat Knesset.

Netanyahu submitted a letter to Israel’s ceremonial president announcing his achievement, setting the stage for the government to be sworn in Thursday. Netanyahu has been prime minister for more than a decade, defying critics who had written him off and cementing his reputation as a political wizard.

The announcement Wednesday was procedural and expected. Netanyahu and his rival-turned-ally Gantz came to a power-sharing agreement last month, putting Likud and its traditional religious Zionist allies over the threshold.

The swearing in caps a tumultuous year for Israeli politics. After three elections ended in stalemate, Israel appeared headed for an unprecedented fourth election, until Gantz, spurred on by the fallout from the coronavirus crisis, reneged on his campaign promise to never sit in a government under an indicted Netanyahu and agreed to join him.

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Their power-sharing deal, forming an emergency unity government focusing on the coronavirus crisis, will see them each as prime minister for 18 months, beginning with Netanyahu.