Netanyahu and Gantz Meet, Issue Joint Statement on ‘Progress’ Toward Unity

After their meeting at the Prime Minister's Residence, the two instructed their negotiation teams 'to try and finalize a coalition agreement as soon as possible'

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz (left) and Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuCredit: Corinna Kern / Reuters and Ohad Zwigenberg

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz met on Friday in Jerusalem for the continuation of talks to form a unity government.

In a joint statement by Netanyahu's Likud and Gantz's Kahol Lavan, it was stated that "the conversation took place in a positive and practical atmosphere and agreement and progress was achieved." After their meeting at the Prime Minister's Residence, "the two instructed their negotiation teams to try and finalize a coalition agreement as soon as possible."

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Gantz wrote earlier Friday on his Facebook page that his party has reached agreement with Likud "on most issues" as part of talks on establishing a unity government. In the post, Gantz wrote that "as of today, we can say that we have reached consensus on most issues that will first and foremost ensure the enforcement and preservation of the law."

Gantz added that "there will not be one person in the country who will not feel the change after we enter government. However, there are a number of critical and essential issues under discussion. Given this critical time, it is clear to all of us that there is no other alternative for either party and for the State of Israel."

On Wednsday, a draft of the coalition agreement being finalized between Netanyahu and Gantz said that Netanyahu was to remain in his official residence even after he hands over the position in 18 months and becomes deputy prime minister.

The draft permits funding for housing for both the prime minister and the so-called deputy, the role Gantz is to have for the first half of the proposed unity government, with Netanyahu filling it for the second.

As reported in Haaretz on Tuesday, the coalition agreement taking shape between Likud and Kahol Lavan includes a mechanism regulating the appointment of judges, so this can be done only with the agreement of both parties.

According to the emerging agreement, the Knesset’s Judicial Selection Committee will be headed by the justice minister, which is supposed to be someone from Kahol Lavan. The committee is also to include another minister and two lawmakers, one from the coalition and one from the opposition, meaning Likud can fill two of the positions on the committee.

Assuming that the government taking shape has a long enough lifespan, the committee can appoint in April a replacement for Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer, who is stepping down, and replacements for two other justices in the spring of 2022.



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