Thirty-fifth government of Israel
35th Cabinet of Israel
|Date formed||17 May 2020|
|People and organisations|
|Head of government||Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Deputy head of government||Benny Gantz|
|No. of ministers||33|
|Status in legislature|
|Opposition leader||Yair Lapid|
|Election(s)||2020 Knesset election|
|Legislature term(s)||23rd Knesset|
|Incoming formation||2019–20 crisis|
The thirty-fifth government of Israel (Hebrew: מֶמְשֶׁלֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל הַשְׁלוֹשִׁים וְחָמֵשׁ, Mem'shelet Yisra'el HaShloshim VeHamesh) is the current government of Israel, which was sworn in on 17 May 2020.
Originally, it was expected to be established following the April 2019 election, but after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a government, the Knesset dissolved itself, setting up a snap election that took place on 17 September 2019. Following the second elections again no one was able to form a government, and a third election took place on 2 March 2020. On 20 April 2020, an agreement was reached between Netanyahu and MK Benny Gantz on the formation of a national unity government.
After the April 2019 Israeli legislative election, the Blue and White faction leader Benny Gantz conceded, paving the way for incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of Likud, to begin talks with other parties to form a governing coalition.
Recommendations (April 2019)
On 15–16 April 2019, President Reuven Rivlin met with representatives of the parties in the 21st Knesset. They recommended as follows and Rivlin officially chose Netanyahu to form the next government.
|Blue & White||Benny Gantz||35||Gantz|||
|Yisrael Beiteinu||Avigdor Lieberman||5||Netanyahu|||
|Union of the Right-Wing Parties||Rafi Peretz||5||Netanyahu|||
Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition by the deadline of 29 May. Instead of letting Benny Gantz attempt to form a coalition of his own, a vote by the majority of the Knesset elected to dissolve itself, and a snap election was held on 17 September 2019.
That election was inconclusive, prompting warnings of a third election. This prospect was deemed unacceptable by the opposition and the general public, and the prime minister called on Gantz to form a national unity government, even offering to cede the top job sometime in the future. Gantz rejected this offer, noting Netanyahu's proposed unity government would include all of Netanyahu's right-wing allies, but none of Gantz's centre-left allies. Gantz also refused to sit with Likud as long as Netanyahu is its leader, due to the criminal cases against Netanyahu.
Yisrael Beiteinu, under its leader Avigdor Lieberman, called for a secular unity government composed of itself, Likud, and Blue and White, and that would specifically exclude Netanyahu's right-wing and religious allies. As Lieberman's party holds the balance of power in the Knesset, analysts identified such a coalition as the most viable option.
Recommendations (September 2019)
President Rivlin met with representatives of Blue and White, Likud, the Joint List, Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu on 22 September to ask for recommendations on whom to select for prime minister. The next day, he met with members of United Torah Judaism, Yamina, Labor-Gesher and the Democratic Union.
|Blue & White||Benny Gantz||33||Gantz|||
|Joint List||Ayman Odeh||13||divided|||
|United Arab List||Mansour Abbas||3||Gantz|||
|Yisrael Beiteinu||Avigdor Lieberman||8||No-one|||
|Democratic Union||Nitzan Horowitz||5||Gantz|||
Rivlin officially chose Netanyahu to form the next government on 25 September, though he conditioned it on Netanyahu giving back the mandate if he failed to form a government, in order to avoid another dissolution of the Knesset.
Netanyahu agreed to this stipulation, and called for a "unity government" between himself, his allied religious parties, and Gantz. Gantz refused, on the basis that he had promised during the election not to join a Netanyahu-led coalition, and furthermore that a coalition that included all of Netanyahu's allies would not truly be a unity government. Efforts to resolve the deadlock were unsuccessful, and on 21 October Netanyahu returned the mandate to Rivlin. On 23 October, Rivlin's office tasked Gantz with forming a government; this mandate was given back to Rivlin on 21 November. From that day, MKs had three weeks in which they could choose to nominate any of themselves to serve as PM. The selected MK would have had to secure the support of 61 MKs. However, no MK was able to form a government, and it was determined on 12 December that a third election would take place on 2 March 2020.
Recommendations (March–April 2020)
|Blue & White||Benny Gantz||33||Gantz|||
|Joint List||Ayman Odeh||15||Gantz|||
|Yisrael Beiteinu||Avigdor Lieberman||7||Gantz|||
Before the election, Gantz vowed to form a government that would not include Netanyahu. Initially an attempt was made to form a minority government with external support from the Joint List, however this initiative promtply collapsed as MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser announced they would vote against such a government, citing an electoral promise not to lean on the Joint List which includes "terror supporters" such as Balad. During the COVID-19 pandemic in Israel, Gantz reversed his stance and announced he was willing to support an emergency coalition with Netanyahu. On 21 March, Netanyahu announced negotiations were completed for a national unity government with a rotating prime ministership where Netanyahu would serve first, and would later be replaced by Gantz, although Gantz denied this and claimed negotiations were still ongoing. On 26 March, one day after Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein resigned, Gantz instead agreed to become Speaker of the Knesset. The fact that right-wingers in Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition agreed to support Gantz's bid to become speaker put the future of the Blue and White alliance in jeopardy. The same day Gantz was elected as the new Speaker of the Knesset by a margin of 74–18.
On 27 March 2020, it was revealed that a major obstacle to a possible long-term alliance between Gantz and Netanyahu emerged with regard to implementing U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan. Barak Ravid of Israel's Channel 13 news revealed that Gantz, despite previously claiming that he wanted to implement the peace plan, still wanted to hold peace talks with the Palestinians, which Trump and Netanyahu still opposed. Ravid stated that this would likely make the upcoming deal between Gantz and Netanyahu short-lived. As part of the proposed coalition deal between Netanyahu and Gantz, Gantz was to replace Netanyahu as Prime Minister of Israel after 18 months' government. Gantz's term as prime minister-designate was going to end on 14 April, though President Rivlin extended it until 15 April.
On 20 April 2020, Gantz and Netanyahu announced that agreement on a unity government had been reached. The deal would involve both parties sharing power, and Gantz and Netanyahu taking turns being prime minister. Under the terms of the agreement Netanyahu is to be prime minister until October 2021, with Gantz serving as vice prime minister. After that time the men are to exchange roles. However, should Netanyahu leave the premiership early, Gantz is to take over the role. Several watchdog groups in Israel, including the Movement for Quality Government in Israel and other groups, reacted to the news by petitioning the Supreme Court to block the formation of the government due to the indictment of Netanyahu.
On 7 May 2020, Netanyahu won the support of 72 MKs to form a government, with Rivlin giving Netanyahu a two-week mandate to form a government shortly after. The parties who gave their support included Blue and White, Likud, Derekh Eretz, Gesher, Shas and United Torah Judaism as well as two of the three members of the Labor Party.
Members of government
On 17 May 2020, the following were announced to the Knesset as members in the new government:
- Holmes, Oliver (29 May 2019). "Israel to hold new elections after Netanyahu coalition talks fail". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 30 May 2019.
- Staff writer (4 March 2020). "Right-wing bloc - 58 seats, Blue and White - 33". Arutz Sheva. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
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- Raoul Wootliff (16 April 2019). "Netanyahu secures majority backing after right-wing parties recommend him as PM". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- Lis, Jonathan (16 April 2019). "Netanyahu Set to Form Next Government After Most Parties Recommend Him to President". Haaretz. Retrieved 18 April 2019.
- Staff writer (17 April 2019). "With plea for healing, president officially taps Netanyahu to form new coalition". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
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- "נתניהו השיג 65 ממליצים להרכבת הממשלה". ynet (in Hebrew). 16 April 2019. Retrieved 17 April 2019.
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- Noa Landau (18 September 2019). "Real voter fraud will be a third Israel election. We shouldn't let it happen". Haaretz. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
- Felicia Schwartz; Dov Lieber (19 September 2019). "Gantz Declares Win, Rejects Netanyahu's Call for Negotiations". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
- Staff writer (19 September 2019). "Rivlin to begin consultations Sunday on tasking next prime minister". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- "LIVEBLOG: Gantz leads in votes for next Israeli PM after first day of talks". i24 News. 22 September 2019. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
- Staff writer (26 September 2019). "Joint List leader says Gantz asked party to reduce support in tactical move". The Times of Israel.
- "Netanyahu expected to have first crack at forming Israeli government". i24 News. 24 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
- "Israel election results: Three Arab lawmakers refuse to endorse Gantz; Netanyahu leads with 55 backers". Haaretz. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
- Lahav Harkov (24 September 2019). "Balad votes won't count for Gantz, putting Netanyahu in lead". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- "LIVEBLOG: Netanyahu, Gantz to meet Israeli president again on Wednesday". i24 News. 23 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
- "Israel elections: President Rivlin to tap incumbent Netanyahu to form govt". i24 News. 25 September 2019. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
- Raoul Wootliff (25 September 2019). "Back to square one: New elections loom after Rivlin's unity bid falls short". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 25 September 2019.
- Staff writer (21 October 2019). "Netanyahu tells president he can't form government; now it's Gantz's turn to try". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 21 October 2019.
- Raoul Wootliff (23 October 2019). "Charged with forming coalition, Gantz asks Netanyahu to join, vows to heal rifts". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 23 October 2019.
- Gil Hoffman (21 November 2019). "Rivlin hands over mandate, begs MKs to prevent third election". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
- Staff writer (15 November 2019). "5 days before deadline, Gantz's chances of forming coalition seen as fading away". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- Staff writer (12 December 2019). "Israel calls another election for March 2, the third in a year". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 11 December 2019.
- Chaim Levinson; Jonathan Lis; Jack Khoury (15 March 2020). "Benny Gantz to Get First Chance at Forming Government After Receiving Thin Majority". Haaretz. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- Gil Hoffman (16 March 2020). "Rivlin gives Gantz mandate to form government". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 16 March 2020.
- Gil Hoffman (15 March 2020). "Joint List endorses Gantz to form government". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- Bachner, Michael (15 March 2020). "Shas recommends Netanyahu as MK, urges broad unity government". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "United Torah Judaism backs Netanyahu to form next government". Ynet. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- Bachner, Michael (15 March 2020). "Liberman backs Gantz, hopes for emergency government". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "Yamina recommends Netanyahu, says no unity with Joint List". The Times of Israel. 15 March 2020. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
- "Israel's Gantz vows to form government without Netanyahu". Politico. Associated Press. 16 February 2020. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- Wootliff, Raoul (22 March 2020). "Gantz: Unity government needed now, I'm waiting for Netanyahu to okay talks". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- Gil Hoffman (22 March 2020). "Netanyahu says unity deal with Blue and White reached". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 March 2020.
- "Blue & White in turmoil as Gantz stands for Knesset speaker with right-wing support". ynetnews. 26 March 2020.
- Gil Hoffman (2 April 2020). "Blue and White splits as unity deal with Likud approaches". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- Ravid, Barak (27 March 2020). "Trump peace plan a sticking point in Israel's Netanyahu-Gantz pact". Axios. Retrieved 27 March 2020.
- Gur, Haviv Retig (1 April 2020). "Netanyahu faces a rebellion on the right as new government takes shape". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 1 April 2020.
- Hoffman, Gil (14 April 2020). "Netanyahu, Gantz to continue talks in morning to close deal". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 13 April 2020.
- Gil Hoffman (21 April 2020). "The deal is done: Netanyahu, Gantz ink coalition pact". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 22 April 2020.
- Staff writer (7 May 2020). "Netanyahu gets nod from Rivlin to form government, seemingly cementing rule". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- Rina Bassist (9 May 2020). "Netanyahu's future coalition, without the settlers?". Al-Monitor. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
- Twenty-Third Knesset: Government 35 Knesset
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