Benny Gantz, Israel’s defence minister. (AP)

Netanyahu rival seeks extension in Israel coalition talks

Jerusalem: Benny Gantz, leader of Israel’s Blue and White Party, has asked the country’s president for a two-week extension as he tries to form a coalition government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gantz, Netanyahu’s chief rival in three elections over the past year, was given the task by Israel’s President last month of forming a new government after winning the backing of a narrow majority of members of the newly elected parliament.

But in an abrupt about-face, Gantz later said he would seek to form an “emergency” government with Netanyahu’s Likud party to confront a growing coronavirus crisis. His decision caused his Blue and White alliance to disintegrate, leaving him at the helm of a diminished version of the party.

The emergency government is expected to leave Netanyahu in the prime minister’s post for a year and a half, before the job rotates to Gantz. After initial signs of progress, talks between Gantz and Netanyahu hit a snag last week.

Gantz faces a Monday deadline for reaching a deal. He announced late Saturday that he would ask the country’s figurehead president, Reuven Rivlin, for a two-week extension.

Read the article in The Sydney Morning Herald (AP).