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Swearing-in of new Israeli government delayed by infighting

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival-turned-partner, Benny Gantz, on Thursday postponed the swearing-in of their controversial new government as the Israeli leader rushed to quell infighting within his Likud party.

In a joint announcement, the two men said they would hold a swearing-in ceremony on Sunday to give Netanyahu more time to hand out coveted Cabinet appointments to members of his party.

After three divisive elections, and a year and a half of political paralysis, Israel had hoped to swear in the new government on Thursday.

Netanyahu and Gantz announced last month they would put their differences aside and join forces to steer the country through the coronavirus crisis.

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It came at the price of the dissolution of Gantz’s Blue and White party and his reneging on a key campaign promise not to serve under Netanyahu, who is scheduled to go on trial this month on corruption charges. Their coalition deal, resulting in the most bloated government in Israeli history and new legislation to help Netanyahu cling to power, could only come about after the country’s Supreme Court ruled it had no legal grounds to block it.

ASSOCIATED PRESS