JERUSALEM —
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival on Monday signed an agreement to form an “emergency” government, their parties announced in a joint statement.

The deal between Netanyahu’s Likud Party and former military chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White ends months of political paralysis and averts what would have been a fourth consecutive election in just over a year.

After March 2 elections ended in a stalemate, the two leaders agreed late last month to try to form an “emergency” unity Cabinet to cope with the burgeoning coronavirus crisis.

Ending weeks of negotiations, the sides announced a deal on Monday. Had they failed, the country likely would have been forced into another election.

Terms of the agreement weren’t immediately announced. But Israeli media said it called for a three-year period — with Netanyahu serving as prime minister for the first half and Gantz taking the job for the second half.

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