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Netanyahu, Gantz make 'significant progress' in coalition talks

Sunday - March 29, 2020 3:10 pm , Category : WORLD
Jerusalem, March 29 (IANS) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival Benny Gantz wrapped up an all-night meeting on Sunday in terms of a unity government, which they were hoping to finalize later in the day, a media report said here.
A joint statement said they to reached "understandings and significant progress" during the talks at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, without elaborating, The Times of Israel said in the report.
Further talks will be held later Sunday with the aim of reaching a signed deal, according to the statement.
The unity talks came after Gantz in a shock move was elected Parliament or Knesset Speaker on Thursday, leading to the dissolution of his Blue and White alliance, which had campaigned during the three elections over the past year on not joining a government led by Netanyahu due to his indictment on graft charges, said The Times of Israel report.
Meanwhile, members of the Gantz-led Israel Resilience patyu have said the only alternative to joining a Netanyahu-led coalition was a fourth round of elections and that a government was needed to deal with the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
As part of the negotiations, Netanyahu is seeking legislation saying that an acting Prime Minister under indictment can continue to serve, in order to ensure he can fill that role when his prime ministerial rotation with Gantz is slated to go into effect, the report further said.
Currently, Ministers must resign if they face criminal charges, but the law does not explicitly refer to a Prime Minister.
Israel is currently facing a parliamentary crisis as the elections on March 2, the third within a year, once again failed to produce a clear majority by either Netanyahu or Gantz.
Netanyahu, the country's longest serving Prime Minister, had been due in court last week to face corruption charges in connection with three separate cases, a BBC report said.
But the hearing has now been postponed until at least May 24 because of the coronavirus outbreak that has so far infected 3,865 people across Israel nad killed 12 others.

--IANS ksk/