Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to join him in the establishment of an emergency unity government on Thursday to confront the challenges coronavirus crisis poses to Israel.
At a press conference in Jerusalem, Netanyahu called to “put politics aside” and “focusing on on the health and lives of the citizens of Israel.”
Earlier, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, Shas head Arye Deri and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman issued the same call due to the growing health and economic crisis Israel is in.
“Unite now, fight later,” Bennett said at a Tel Aviv press conference in which he proposed passing a bill to freeze the current political situation for six months.
Liberman suggested a government of only Likud and Blue and White to deal with the coronavirus on Thursday in an interview with the Russian-language Channel 9.
He said other factions should support the government from outside the coalition at first and take no posts. Likud and Blue and White will have 69 seats in the new Knesset that will be sworn in on Monday.
Emergency unity governments are meant to established with a clear timeline for when they expire and the country goes to new elections.
Earlier Thursday, Shas leader Arye Deri called upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to overcome their differences and form a “national emergency government” under Netanyahu, due to the coronavirus.
Deri will make that recommendation to President Reuven Rivlin on Sunday when representatives of the eight parties in the new Knesset meet with Rivlin.
“There is no other way of dealing with this challenge other than a large emergency government with a wide national consensus, and we must do that, because there unfortunately is no other government,” Deri told Army Radio. “Otherwise, it is going to another election, which would be crazy in our situation.”
Netanyahu frequently seeks the political advice of Deri, who is one of the most experienced politicians in Israel. The leader of the Shas Party was the first politician Netanyahu met with after the March 2 election.
Deri criticized Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for continuing to seek a minority government, for seeking to unseat Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein and for Blue and White’s bill that would make it illegal for an indicted MK to form a government and serve as prime minister.
This is not the time to play games, he said.