Photo: Flash90

Israel welcomes 35th government

Residents of Jerusalem are generally voicing joy over the long-overdue establishment of national emergency government.

Similar to the reactions reported from the coastal city of Tel Aviv immediately after the announcement of a unity deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, hope was also voiced in the Israeli capital that the new government will provide a concrete strategy to deal with the coronavirus pandemic and its economic fallout, as well as the many other challenges confronting the nation.

“I’m very happy that we finally have a new government, it’s great to see after all this time,” Jerusalem resident Larry Shafier told Reuters. “Let’s hope that they can move us forward as a country and as a world and that it will be helpful for the Jewish State, and that everyone will find peace and tranquility and that this difficult time will end soon,” he added.

After commenting, “Thank God that we have a government,” another citizen who lives in the city, Jeffery Shanes, pointed out that Israelis have “been stressed in two ways – the virus and the government.” He expressed his hope the new government will serve as a successful and “new model for the future,” that could “help satisfy more people.”

In a televised address marking the conclusion of Holocaust Remembrance Day, Knesset Speaker Gantz said the annual observance “brings us all back to our people’s difficult history.” The former Israeli Military Chief asserted the memory of the WWII genocide of the Jewish People should always serve as a vital reminder for the State and people of Israel to remain unified against danger while continuing to develop its power in all forms. Holocaust Remembrance Day “reminds us how important our power is – the power to face our enemies,” said Gantz, stressing it is a “moral power that connects us and keeps us united.”

Turning his focus to motivations for the establishing of a national emergency government together with Netanyahu amid vigorous condemnations from his former political partners accusing him of political opportunism, Gantz insisted that a continuation of Jerusalem’s political deadlock could not be justified at a time of crisis. “There are those who wanted to keep rolling to more and more election campaigns and maybe feel righteous. There are those who would rather win in politics than beat the Corona crisis,” he said, adding that “My friends and I could not stand idly by. We have chosen to preserve the democracy and fight against the Corona and its consequences.”

“For me, knowing that leaders first think about the citizens, and place the common good before their personal interests has never changed and will never change. This is what motivated me to enter the political field and this is what lead my decision to strive for an emergency and unity government,” he said, before going on to emphasize his hope that the newly established government would ultimately serve as a source for much needed unity among Israel’s diverse society. “The greatest achievement this government may attain is that unity will permeate and a national reconciliation cabinet will act and promote peace within us. This is the most important thing in this moment for the Israeli society,” said soon-to-be sworn-in Deputy-Premier.

Further highlighting the next steps aimed at eradicating COVID-19, Gantz said “In the next six months, the government will focus on co-leading the national fight against the coronavirus. For this purpose, we will establish a Corona Cabinet immediately after the government’s inauguration” in which “all relevant ministers and best professionals will sit around one table.”

“Together, we will provide the public with accurate and necessary information” as well “answers to the entire economy,” he vowed, acknowledging that “alongside the security challenges that remain in effect, we have huge challenges in health, education, the collapsing agricultural market and adapting the modern welfare system to the new conditions created in the economy.”