Israel appears headed for a unity government after opposition leader Benny Gantz moved towards an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, disappointing voters who had hoped to bring down the right-wing premier.
Gantz was elected parliamentary speaker on Thursday with support from Netanyahu’s Likud and allied parties, leaving many of his own partners furious over the possibility he could form an alliance with a leader under criminal indictment.
He cited the coronavirus epidemic as the reason for his decision.
The shock move splintered Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party just 13 months after it came into existence as a coalition of Netanyahu opponents intent on bringing down the 70-year-old, who is Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.
It is also drew an angry response from some among the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who turned out to support Gantz’s coalition in three elections in the past year. Some commentators accused the former general of caving in to Netanyahu.
“It makes me feel terrible. It’s exactly what I did not want to happen, to see Gantz actually partner with Netanyahu,” said Tami Golan, 46, who voted for Gantz in all three elections.
“I understand the coronavirus makes for a special situation, but I can’t help but feel disappointed – we might not be done with Netanyahu,” Golan said.
Many Blue and White voters felt betrayed, commentator Nahum Barnea wrote in the Yedioth Ahronoth daily.