Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Netanyahu (L) and Gantz at a memorial for former president Shimon Peres. Photo: Gil Cohen-Magen/AFP via Getty

In a dramatic reversal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief rival, Benny Gantz, has agreed to join forces in an "emergency government" to deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Why it matters: This is a big step toward ending Israel's year-long political deadlock and a victory for Netanyahu, who will stay on as prime minister for at least another 18 months even as his corruption trial gets underway.

According to the draft deal with Netanyahu, Gantz will serve as vice prime minister and then become prime minister after 18 months.

  • Gantz's advisers say they will have the agreement enshrined in law, though it's unclear whether that will be possible. Many of Netanyahu's critics argue he can't be trusted to leave office as promised.
  • Gantz's faction will also control the Defense, Foreign and Justice ministries, among other roles.

The backstory: Gantz and his Blue and White party ran in three consecutive election campaigns, all in the last year, on a platform of replacing Netanyahu at all costs.

  • Gantz repeatedly said he would not be serving under Netanyahu while the prime minister was under indictment.
  • He had even promised to pass laws to prevent a prime minister from taking office after being indicted.

Today's move will enrage members of his political base, the vast majority of whom are vehemently opposed to Netanyahu.

  • The move is particularly extraordinary because it comes just over a week after Gantz received a presidential mandate to form Israel's next government.
  • Gantz had said he intended to form a unity government to deal with the coronavirus crisis, but with him as prime minister.
  • Netanyahu, meanwhile, has called on Gantz almost daily to join an emergency unity government.

Behind the scenes: Gantz and his advisers held secret talks with Netanyahu and his aides for several weeks — elements of which were not disclosed even to Gantz's political partners in the Blue and White leadership.

  • Meanwhile, Gantz's opposition bloc started to use its majority in the Knesset, Israel's parliament, to take control of key committees.
  • Blue and White even pushed for a vote to remove a Netanyahu ally as parliamentary speaker, leading to an unprecedented constitutional showdown involving the supreme court.

The political drama reached its climax today, ahead of a planned vote for the next speaker.

  • Netanyahu threatened to rule out a unity government if Blue and White's original nominee — who came from another party faction led by Yair Lapid — was selected.
  • Two hours before the vote, Gantz told Lapid he would not support the nominee and would propose himself to be speaker instead in order to buy more time for negotiations with Netanyahu.
  • Lapid told Gantz that would be the end of Blue and White, but Gantz still went ahead.
  • Lapid and another leader within the party, Moshe Ya'alon, announced they would be splitting the party. That move gives them 18 seats in the Knesset to Gantz's 15.

Go deeper

Texas AG sues Biden administration over deportation freeze

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton speaks to members of the media in 2016. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is suing the Biden administration in federal district court over its 100-day freeze on deporting unauthorized immigrants, and he's asking for a temporary restraining order.

Between the lines: The freeze went into effect Friday, temporarily halting most immigration enforcement in the U.S. In the lawsuit, Paxton claims the move "violates the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas" and the Department of Homeland Security.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
57 mins ago - Podcasts

Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck

President Biden has said that getting Americans vaccinated for COVID-19 is his administration’s top priority given an initial rollout plagued by organizational, logistical and technical glitches.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the bottlenecks and how to unclog them with Carbon Health chief executive Eren Bali, whose company recently began helping to manage vaccinations in Los Angeles.