24 Hours of Division and Unity

This week has been exceptionally hectic in Israel after just a few short days. On Sunday night, 2,000 protestors hit the streets covered in face masks and standing six feet apart in accordance with the health regulations set in place because of the coronavirus. They stood in unity to oppose Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the decision by Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to pursue a unity government with him. Netanyahu faces corruption charges, and protesters believe his political dealings are self-serving as a means of avoiding his day in court.

Less than a day later, Netanyahu and Gantz ended a year-and-a-half-long political crisis by agreeing to a unity government. The deal came as a shock, as talks appeared to be dead after Gantz walked out on a meeting with Netanyahu earlier in the day. Now the two men have an agreement in place that will see Netanyahu serve as prime minister for the next 18 months followed by Gantz assuming the role in October 2021. Government ministries will be split between Blue and White and Likud, Netanyahu’s party. Among others, Blue and White will receive the ministries for defense; justice; finance; economy; and communications, while Likud will receive the ministries of the treasury; interior; transportation; housing; and education. 

It’s hard to tell whether there is a sense of relief or panic in Israel right now. A unity government that will end the political fiasco of the past 18 months is an answer to the nation’s political prayers, but protests in the streets and continued unrest among the parties and the people usually hints at imminent trouble. We can hope unity between opposing parties can be an example of good faith the rest of the country can emulate. Of greater concern is the future of this government and how Netanyahu’s corruption charges will affect the nation as a whole. In the meantime, a stable government gives Israel a reason to rejoice.