JERUSALEM: Israel’s ex-military chief Benny Gantz, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main rival, submitted himself on Thursday as a candidate for speaker of parliament, a move that could lead to an emergency alliance between the two men.
The Knesset, Israel’s parliament, declared on its website that Gantz was the only candidate to succeed Netanyahu ally Yuli Edelstein, who resigned as speaker under pressure on Wednesday.
A formal vote electing Gantz is expected later on Thursday.
A staunch ally of Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party, has committed to backing Gantz as speaker.
A source from Gantz’s centrist Blue and White party, who requested anonymity, told AFP that the party leader’s bid to become speaker was part of an effort to form an emergency government with Likud.
Israel has been mired in a crippling political crisis that has seen the country hold three inconclusive elections in less than a year.
Gantz was tasked with forming a government following the last vote on March 2, but there was no guarantee he would succeed, given the deep divisions within the anti-Netanyahu camp.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic that has seen more than 2,600 Israelis infected, there have been widespread calls for an alliance between Netanyahu and Gantz.