Knesset vote gives go-ahead to Israel’s emergency unity government

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) – The Knesset passed legislation on Thursday to allow the formation of an emergency unity government, giving Israel its first stable government in more than a year.

Hours before the final vote, the Supreme Court issued a decision Wednesday night that did not object to the agreement that formed the coalition between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and the Blue and White coalition headed by Benny Gantz. The court also struck down lawsuits that would have prevented a lawmaker under indictment from forming and leading a government. Netanyahu is facing a trial on corruption charges.

The legislation approved by the Knesset included amendments to two quasi-constitutional Basic Laws.

Later Thursday, party representatives sent to President Reuven Rivlin the signatures of 72 Knesset members recommending that Netanyahu be tasked with forming a “emergency national unity government.” Thursday midnight was the deadline for lawmakers to recommend someone to form a new government before triggering the nation’s fourth elections in about a year.

Under the coalition agreement, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for the next 18 month and Gantz will then take over for the following 18 months.

Likud and Blue and White said in a statement to reporters issued late Wednesday night that the new government will be sworn in on May 13.

The amendments to the Basic Laws were approved by a vote of 72-36 with abstentions from the far-right Yamina party, lawmakers from Yisrael Beiteinu, including its head Avigdor Lieberman, and a Labor party lawmaker. Labor has joined the coalition.