Netanyahu proposes stepping down in power-sharing deal
JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister said Saturday that he is ready to step down next year as part of a proposed power-sharing agreement with his chief rival meant to steer the country through the coronavirus crisis and end a year-long political deadlock.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made his proposal during a nationally televised interview, calling for the formation of a three-year “emergency” unity government with the rival Blue and White Party.
Netanyahu said he would remain as prime minister for the first year and a half, and allow Blue and White leader Benny Gantz to assume the post for a second year-and-ahalf term in September 2021. He said each party would have an equal number of seats in the Cabinet.
“I will give up the prime minister’s post in another year and a half,” Netanyahu said.
Yair Lapid, a senior Blue and White leader, dismissed Netanyahu’s unity offer as insincere. “Next week, we will go to choose a new parliament speaker and work to battle coronavirus for the good of the people,” he said.
Israel is facing a growing threat from the coronavirus pandemic. It has detected nearly 900 cases and on Friday reported its first death.
Blue and White has accused Netanyahu of using the coronavirus crisis to undermine the country’s democratic institutions and try to derail his scheduled trial on corruption charges. Senior members of Gantz’ party have expressed skepticism at previous powersharing overtures by Netanyahu, concerned that he would not follow through on his promises.