Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday delayed the swearing in of his new unity government until at least Sunday because of a last-minute dispute within his Likud party over the allotment of ministries, extending political uncertainty in the country.
The move came amidst discontent by some seven senior Likud lawmakers who are close associates of Netanyahu and were not assigned by him for ministerial positions in the new government.
Taking to Twitter, Regional Cooperation Minister Tzachi Hanegbi and Deputy Defence Minister Avi Dichter said that they will boycott the vote in Parliament to approve the new government, which was scheduled to take place on Thursday night.
Meanwhile, Gantz, Netanyahu’s former rival, said he will withdraw his resignation from his position as Parliament speaker.
In a letter to President Rivlin on Wednesday, Netanyahu was tasked by Rivlin to put together a new government after Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, failed to do so following the March 2 elections, the third in 12 months.
Last month, the alliance formed between the right-wing incumbent and his centrist challenger followed three inconclusive elections in less than a year.
Under the three-year deal, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for 18 months, with Gantz as his alternate, a new position in Israeli governance.
According to the deal reached between Gantz and Netanyahu, Israel could begin to move on annexation of parts of the West Bank as early as July as part of the implementation of the US peace plan for Israelis and Palestinians.
Last Wednesday, Netanyahu and Gantz met but could not come up with an agreed candidate to lead the health ministry as well as several other issues.
Hundreds of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against the unity government, the latest in a string of dozens of rallies against a government in which Netanyahu serves as the Prime Minister.
The protesters said that a person indicted with criminal charges should not lead the government.
Netanyahu, a hardline leader of the right-wing Likud party, has served as the Prime Minister since 2009.
He is indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate cases. His trial is scheduled to begin on May 24 in the Jerusalem District Court.