On Wednesday, the fifth day of Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the head of the National Unity Party, Benny Gantz, agreed to form a unity administration.
According to the agreement, Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and Gantz will form a war cabinet; Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Knesset Member Gadi Eisenkot, a supporter of Gantz, will act as observers, according to Channel 12. As ministers without portfolios, Gantz, Eisenkot, and MK Gideon Sa’ar will be sworn in.
It was also decided that the emergency government would consist of a total of five ministers from Gantz’s party: Gantz, Eisenkot, Sa’ar, and two other individuals who have not yet been identified.
Following a morning meeting between Netanyahu and Gantz at the IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv, news of the agreement was announced.
The only thing left to do, according to Gantz’s staff, was to settle on the specifics. A national unity government had been anticipated for a few days due to calls for it from all party leaders and support from the general population.
The leaders of the regional governments in the southern part of the nation, which took the brunt of Hamas’s surprise attack on October 7, wrote to Netanyahu on Tuesday evening to seek a unity government.
“We, the heads of the authorities in the Negev, who are dealing with rocket fire on our settlement, infiltration by terrorists, many murdered, killed, missing, kidnapped, and injured, call on you at this difficult time for the people and the State of Israel to immediately establish a national emergency government,” their letter to the prime minister read.
The formation of an “emergency national government” was backed by Netanyahu’s administration on Tuesday morning in a meeting of coalition party leaders. Their choice came after the prime minister’s Saturday night national address, in which he urged unity among Israel’s leaders.
The opposition leaders Yair Lapid of the Yesh Atid Party and Gantz met separately on Saturday evening, the day of the Hamas offensive, and Netanyahu urged them to form a “broad emergency government, in the same format according to which the late opposition leader Menachem Begin joined the [Levi] Eshkol government on the eve of the Six-Day War.”
Gantz and Lapid gave supportive responses.
A unity government, according to Lapid, would demonstrate to Israel’s adversaries and the outside world that Israel supports the IDF as a whole.
The National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir of the Otzma Yehudit Party and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the Religious Zionism Party, however, were two far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition, and Lapid made it clear he would only join if they were excluded or removed.
The formation of a national unity government has received substantial support from both Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, although they both object to the idea of being excluded from the decision-making process.