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How a falafel shop owner may have accelerated Israel's unity government

A falafel vendor's tearful account in a TV interview about his livelihood and how he has been personally affected by the coronavirus pandemic has resonated across the country, so much so that it shook Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz into action.

Did a falafel vendor from Ashdod push Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into signing a unity government agreement with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz? What is certain is that the April 19 interview Channel 13 broadcast with a falafel shop owner named Yuval Carmi —devastated financially by the coronavirus pandemic — made waves throughout Israel and went viral on social media. Carmi told viewers that he can no longer feed his children, potentially making Netanyahu realize that if the economic crisis continues, he himself could collapse politically.

Netanyahu served as finance minister between 2003 and 2005, so he perfectly understands the political force of an angry, unemployed and bankrupted public. Netanyahu also knows that the Israeli economy was hit hard by the coronavirus and won’t bounce back easily. More than 1 million Israelis are currently unemployed, most of them losing their jobs in recent weeks following the government’s decision to shut down businesses. One million unemployed is the highest rate ever registered in Israel, and Netanyahu bears the responsibility.

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