Israeli President Reuven Rivlin gave Netanyahu and Gantz 48 hours to form a viable government coalition.
On Monday night, Rivlin’s original deadline for leader of the centrist Alliance “Blue and White” Gantz, to form a new government, expired after the March 2 elections, the third in less than a year.
Gantz was supported by most of the 120-seat parliament, despite Netanyahu and his Likud party in the elections.
Since December 2018, Israel has been in political stalemate, and both Netanyahu and Gantz failed to form a government after the April and September elections last year.
Netanyahu and Gantz said that they are trying to form a government “national emergency unit” to face the outbreak of the new Corona virus, after Israel counted more than 12 thousand infections, and recorded 126 deaths.
The parties’ deadline for the deal ends at midnight on Wednesday local time (9:00 GMT).
The two parties suspended the negotiation process on Tuesday, and confirmed in a joint statement the resumption of talks after the end of the Easter holiday on Wednesday evening.
Accordingly, it will remain practically for both sides only several hours to conclude a final agreement before the deadline.
And if they fail to do so, the Israeli president should ask members of parliament to recommend another person to try to form a government.
Split and contention
Last month, Benny Gantz, surprisingly, was elected to the Knesset as Speaker.
After that, the talks to form a government headed by the man who previously served as chief of staff, were effectively suspended.
Gantz called for the formation of a Netanyahu-led coalition for a specific period to unite in the face of the unprecedented health crisis of the Corona Virus.
His call caused a split in his centrist coalition, some of his members split, and joined the opposition instead of supporting Netanyahu.
After that, the government formation talks stopped after disputes over the distribution of ministerial portfolios, especially the justice portfolio, as Netanyahu faces corruption charges, and the spread of the virus has postponed the start of his trial to May.
Netanyahu is the first prime minister in Israel to be charged while in office.
The defense portfolio also appears to be in dispute, especially since Gantz and his assistant, Gabi Ashkenazi, are former chiefs of staff.
A dispute over the annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank also surfaced.
Benny Gantz has always refused to participate in a government led by his rival Netanyahu because of corruption charges against him, but he later announced his decision to ally with Netanyahu.
Addressing his political rival, Gantz said earlier, “Netanyahu, we have come to the moment of truth (…) The Israelis expect us to put our differences aside and work together for them (…) History will not forgive us if we do not succeed.”
Many wonder if Netanyahu really wants to share power with Gantz, especially since opinion polls have been positive for him, as there appears to be popular consensus on how he will manage the Corona crisis.
The prime minister is accused by his opponents of his constant pursuit of repealing the indictments against him, and pushing for a fourth election in the hope of obtaining a parliamentary majority at a last opportunity that could help him obtain immunity from prosecution.