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A resident of the Israeli city of Brei Brak near Tel Aviv wears a protective mask A resident of the Israeli city of Brei Brak near Tel Aviv wears a protective mask  (AFP or licensors)

Israel struggles to form emergency unity government

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz, have said a unity government deal was close which could break the country's ongoing political deadlock.

By Nathan Morley

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival, Benny Gantz, have said a unity government deal was close which could break the country's ongoing political deadlock.

Israel has been in political deadlock for 18-months.

But now Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz said in separate statements that ‘substantial progress was made’ in a meeting on Monday. That prompted Israel’s president Reuven Rivlin to grant extra time to try and form a unity government.

The two men now have until the end of Wednesday to forge a deal.

Gantz has now changed tack. He had originally promised to form a government without Netanyahu, but now says an emergency unity government is needed in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Israel now stands at 11,868. The death toll from the virus has reached 117 people.

If the two men fail to reach an agreement, Israel faces a fourth election after three previous rounds produced inconclusive results.

Netanyahu has led a caretaker since December 2018.

Separately, Netanyahu has announced a re-tightening of anti-Covid measures ahead of the Jewish holiday of Second Passover this week.

Listen to the report by Nathan Morley
14 April 2020, 17:04