Sayonara Stalemate


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Every bad situation has a silver lining. Coronavirus is ravaging the world; lives and businesses are being destroyed. However, in the small nation of Israel, disaster has helped fix a situation that has been causing tension for over a year.

Current prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his political rival and former army chief, Benny Gantz, have formed a unity government. This agreement comes at a time when the country is in most need of it; there are over 15,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Israel, The Times of Israel reported. Sophomore Emma Ward explains why having a unified government helps coronavirus relief: “Since the issue is so foreign and new, the only way there can be a potential solution if everyone is on the same page.”

This agreement was formed very suddenly; just weeks before the agreement, Gantz promised his allies of the Blue and White Party that he would never join with his foe Netanyahu. Many of his allies were disappointed when the agreement was reached. However, Gantz valued saving lives, and saving the country, over politics. “This is the time for leaders to choose what is right and put the lingering issues and personal scores aside,” Gantz stated. He added that he would never “drag Israel to elections at this time of emergency – which will be with us for a long time, and whose repercussions are going to be long-term,” The Guardian reported. When the cases of COVID-19 started to exponentially grow in Israel, Gantz immediately quelled his fight against the current prime minister, and plans were put in motion for the two men to join together. Gantz added to his previous statements, saying on Twitter that “[Netanyahu and I] will protect democracy. We will fight coronavirus and care for all Israel’s citizens.”

Gantz joined Netanyahu for the sake of Israel, and Netanyahu agreed to this plan, knowing that his nation would benefit, along with his reputation. The current prime minister is on trial for corruption; furthermore, he has been “indicted on charges of bribery and breach of trust; he insists he is innocent, calling the charges an attempted coup,” reported CNN. Guilty or innocent, Netanyahu will be put on trial, and being in a unity government secures that he will be in office during his trial since each man will rule for a year and a half. The conservative prime mister is the longest reigning prime minister in the history of Israel; he wants to do everything he can for the citizens of his nation. CNN reported that Netanyahu said, “I promised the state of Israel a national emergency government that will act to save the lives and livelihoods of the citizens of Israel. I will continue to do everything for you, citizens of Israel.”

There have been three elections in Israel in the past year, all before coronavirus hit the country. Neither of the two candidates were able to form a major coalition on his own. For that reason, the two felt inclined to join together in this time of unrest. Though a budget has not been passed since the agreement was made, it is clear how the two will be splitting the power. Netanyahu will remain prime minister for the next year a half, while Gantz will be the deputy of defense and foreign affairs, The Guardian shared. The reverse will occur after a year and half when Gantz becomes the prime minister and Netanyahu becomes deputy of defense and foreign affairs. Both politicians will head a “coronavirus cabinet,” reported The Guardian; the cabinet aims to help fight the virus. Sophomore Rachel Belmont explained that the unity government will help the coronavirus relief in Israel because “Everyone will be on the same page about how to stop the virus.”

Many are relieved to see unity, but thousands of others are very unhappy. Gantz supporters took to the streets to share their anger with the new agreement, reported the Al Jazeera news network. It was also reported that the protesters wore masks and socially distanced while making their case. Not everyone will be happy with the new government; however, the two politicians made the decisions to benefit the nation of Israel as a whole.

Also unhappy with the new government agreement are the Palestinians. With both men joining together, it is very probable that much Arab Palestinian land will be absorbed into Israel. General Saeb Erakat, the general secretary of the Palestinian Liberation Organization voiced his anger: “The new Israeli government has two options: open the doors for a meaningful peace process or to further jeopardize any hope for peace,” CNN reported. Both leaders need to be careful when acquiring territory in order to avoid heightened conflict with their neighbors.

The peace between Gantz and Netanyahu comes at a time of war in the world—not between people, but between humans and the environment. Positives have been able to come out of this terrible situation, and Israel’s unity government is only one of them. Rachel Belmont shared some positives she has seen come out of this, such as the “clearing up of Venice’s canals and [the lowering of] pollution that humans cause.” Sophomore Zack Cohen believes that  other positives will result from this pandemic: “Students will value time with their friends more…in turn [they will] spend less time of their phones and more time socializing.” People all over the globe are working night and day to combat coronavirus.  Israel’s government is doing everything it can stop the virus; the first step to healing Israel was forming a unity government. There is a long road to recovery for Israel, but the unity will help accelerate the process.