Israeli coalition parties back unity government
October 20, 2023
(JNS) — The leaders of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government endorsed the establishment of an “emergency national government” during a meeting of the party heads on Tuesday.
“Every head of the coalition parties, without exception, supported the establishment of an emergency national government and authorized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to act to create it,” a spokesperson for the ruling Likud Party announced.
Local media reported that an agreement for Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party to join the coalition is still being negotiated, but is expected to be signed later on Tuesday.
On Saturday morning, Hamas terrorists infiltrated several Israeli communities, killing at least 900 people and taking at least 100 hostages back to Gaza. At least 2,300 people were wounded in shootouts and rocket attacks, and the death toll continues to climb.
In the hours following the unprecedented attack, Netanyahu invited opposition leaders Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz to join an emergency government.
In making his offer, Netanyahu referred to the national unity government that was formed between then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol and opposition leader Menachem Begin on the eve of the 1967 Six-Day War.
In response, the National Unity Party said it was considering the option of joining Netanyahu’s coalition, with Gantz insisting that the unity government deal only with the security situation and be based on a “substantive partnership and [his party having] influence over decision-making in relevant forums.”
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said that establishing an emergency unity government will send a message to Israel’s enemies and the world that Israel stands united behind the Israel Defense Forces and the security establishment.
However, in a swipe at Netanyahu’s coalition partners, Lapid added that he was willing to join “a reduced, professional emergency government” and described the current Cabinet as “extreme and dysfunctional.”
On Sunday, Avigdor Liberman, leader of the opposition Yisrael Beiteinu Party, said that he would join a unity government “with no conditions” as long as its aim was the total destruction of the Hamas terrorist organization.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the leaders of the right wing of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government, gave their blessing to the initiative.
“Unity and cohesion are the imperative of the hour in order to defeat our enemies,” tweeted Smotrich, who leads the Religious Zionist Party. “Never mind [negotiation] teams, and never mind negotiations.”
“I call on Prime Minister Netanyahu and [National Unity Party leader] Benny Gantz to rise to the occasion, meet immediately and agree on the establishment of a national emergency government that will unite the people, raise the [national] spirit, give full support to the [Israel Defense Forces] and bring about the complete elimination of Hamas and the terrorist organizations in Gaza,” he added.
Otzma Yehudit Party chairman Ben-Gvir put out a statement saying he would “welcome” a broad emergency government if the “stated goal is the total defeat of Hamas and the shattering of its military and political might.”