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30 March, 2020 03:14:51 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 30 March, 2020 10:26:30 AM

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Israel’s Netanyahu, Gantz see ‘significant progress’ toward unity govt

AFP, Jerusalem
Israel’s Netanyahu, Gantz see ‘significant progress’ toward unity govt
A file photo taken recently shows an election banner for the Israeli Blue and White political alliance (Kahol Lavan) with the face of (L to R) its leader retired army general Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, hanging in Ramat Gan. Israel's ex-military chief Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival, submitted himself on March 26 as a candidate for speaker of parliament, a move that could lead to an emergency alliance between the two. AFP Photo

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his erstwhile rival Benny Gantz on Sunday announced "significant progress" in talks toward forming an emergency unity government amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Gantz, whose now fractured centrist Blue and White alliance had positioned itself as the alternative to Netanyahu in three inconclusive elections over the past year, was elected parliament speaker Thursday.

The two men held talks through the night "aimed at establishing a national emergency government to deal with the corona crisis and the additional challenges facing the State of Israel," said a joint statement from Blue and White and Netanyahu's Likud party.

"Significant progress was made during the meeting," it added. "During the course of the day, an additional meeting will be held in order to come to a finalised agreement." Both leaders have previously voiced support for a unity government to help combat the coronavirus pandemic, which has so far seen over 3,800 Israelis infected and claimed 12 lives in the country.

Gantz was tasked with forming a government following the latest vote on March 2 -- something he had been unable to do after two elections last year -- and there was no guarantee he would succeed this time, given rifts within the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

The former chief of Israel's army, Gantz has amid the coronavirus crisis eased off his long-time opposition to working with Netanyahu, who faces graft charges.

Netanyahu, in office since 2009, was in January charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, with the start of his trial delayed due to the pandemic.

He denies the charges.

The divided anti-Netanyahu forces, who held a narrow majority in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, forced the ouster this week of speaker Yuli Edelstein, a member of Netanyahu's Likud party.

Gantz then put himself forward as speaker, triggering the break-up of Blue and White, with two key partners -- the Telem and Yesh Atid parties -- accusing Gantz of surrendering "without a fight" to Netanyahu.

EA/BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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