Netanyahu’s Power Is Extended as Rival Accepts Israel Unity Government

The deal announced Monday divides the numerous ministries of Israel’s government in half. Mr. Gantz and his allies get defense, justice, strategic affairs, economy, labor, communications, agriculture, culture, tourism and diaspora affairs, among others. The spoils for Mr. Netanyahu’s cohort include health, finance, interior, internal security, transportation and housing. The foreign ministry will shift hands from Mr. Gantz’s bloc to Mr. Netanyahu’s after 18 months.

The primary goals of Mr. Gantz’s campaigns were to unseat Mr. Netanyahu and to uphold the rule of law after years of vitriolic attacks by Mr. Netanyahu and his supporters on the police and the judiciary.

Despite Mr. Gantz’s vows to protect the judiciary, his former partner in Blue and White, Yair Lapid, noted scornfully that Mr. Netanyahu had come away with control over a key committee that oversees the appointment of Supreme Court judges, who must retire at 70.

“So the compromise in the judge-appointing committee is that Bibi chose all of the committee’s representatives,” Mr. Lapid wrote on Twitter. Mr. Gantz, he added, had “agreed to allow the criminal defendant to appoint all of the judges who will discuss his case. There is no limit to the disgrace.”

After the last election, on March 2, a diverse, Gantz-led array of anti-Netanyahu forces, ranging from Arab and Islamic parties to Jewish ultranationalists, gained a slim majority of 61 parliamentary seats. Cooperating to form even a minority government proved impossible, but Mr. Gantz and his allies did at first agree to try to deny Mr. Netanyahu yet another term, either by enacting term limits or by passing a law to bar an indicted lawmaker from forming a government.

Those efforts are now dead, and Mr. Netanyahu still towers above every rival as he has for as long as many Israelis can remember.

“Even giving Gantz the benefit of the doubt that it’s better to be a part of the government, Bibi has broken up Blue and White, the only party that’s come close to challenging him in the past 10 years,” said Tal Shalev, political writer for the Walla News website. “Gantz doesn’t have any achievements that come close to equaling the huge score that Netanyahu has just gotten.”

Adam Rasgon contributed reporting.

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