The latest news from Israel, aside from the arrival of COVID-19 and a significant crash of the Israeli stock market, is that there is now a more serious prospect that an Israeli government will be put together this time. The President of Israel has given Gantz and the Blue and White the mandate to form a government within 28 days. This came after Netanyahu's rightwing coalition failed to muster more than 58 votes. Efforts to buy off members of Blue and White to give them 61 votes failed (it was also illegal). Gantz has 61 votes to be elected Prime Minister, with all members of the Arab List and Labor-Meretz aligned. But that is different from a majority in the Knesset. Several members of the Arab List will not agree to automatically vote with Blue and White in the Knesset and several members of Blue and White will not accept the idea that they are dependent on the Arabs to maintain a majority.
So this now opens the door for a national unity government anchored in Blue and White and Likud. This is not a done deal, but it is now the most likely outcome, according to a well-informed Israeli friend. Such a national unity coalition would be moderate. It might adopt a different policy on Syria and on negotiations with the Palestinians, who have so far refused to enter into any dialogue with either Israel or the United States.
There are still substantial hurdles to overcome, but this is the least bad outcome for Israel and it is increasingly probable. The danger of the COVID-19 virus spreading in Israel and of the Israeli economy taking a substantial hit as the result offers further motivation for ending the yearlong situation of ungovernability.
Netanyahu's criminal trial has been postponed until at least late May, so the government deal must be resolved before he goes on trial.
At minimum, Netanyahu's bravado claims that he would move ahead with annexation are now just empty hot air. Trump Administration has told the Israelis that annexation at this time is unacceptable. For Netanyahu, Trump is one of his last friends and he never planned to jeopardize that relationship by going ahead with annexation. A national unity coalition will leave the ultra-right settlers and the ultra-religious parties on the margins–and that is a good thing.