Netanyahu's Biggest Fear: What if Gantz Decides to Decide?

The past year tells us that Defense Minister Benny Gantz will end up dropping the idea to probe the so-called submarine affair. But some in the defense establishment are hoping he will grow some skin

Amos Harel
Amos Harel
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem June 7, 2020.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz attend the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem June 7, 2020. Credit: REUTERS
Amos Harel
Amos Harel

Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Kahol Lavan) hasn’t displayed much assertiveness since entering the political arena. “When you ask Gantz what we’ll have for lunch today, he says, ‘Let me get back to you within 24 hours,’” says a person who covered a lot of political ground with him. Gantz has been wrestling for weeks with the question of whether to establish a committee of inquiry in the affair of the naval vessels.

As reported here about a month ago, the route he’s considering is based on Article 8A of the Government Law, which allows every minister to establish a governmental committee of inquiry on a matter that is within his purview. In contrast to the other suggestion that was examined – to establish a military commission of inquiry – there will be no restrictions on the identity of those who will be summoned to testify. The committee will also be able to draw on the affidavits submitted by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel to bolster its petitions to the High Court of Justice.

Haaretz podcast: Trump-loving Israelis brace for a Biden bombshell

-- : --

A large number of defense establishment retirees who were involved in the affair and smelled the stench have already given testimony to the movement.

Gantz has so far interviewed one candidate to head the committee, a retired District Court judge with a rich security record. A former senior officer and a person with experience in defense procurements would also probably be appointed to the panel. If the committee suspects that illegal acts were perpetrated, it will have to convey the information to the attorney general, Avichai Mendelblit.

It was Mendelblit who stopped the police investigation, which was at its height, from getting to the prime minister, apparently for fear that exposure of corruption would compel the German government to freeze the deal for the submarines and other vessels. If so, the ball will start to roll again in a matter that worries Netanyahu very much, and bears the potential to do him the greatest public damage.

Gantz is still pondering, in part because of the concern that this will be an irreversible move that will bring about the government’s dissolution. Based on the experience of the past year, it’s likely that he, and not Netanyahu, will blink first. But in the meantime, many present and past members of the defense establishment are apparently finding it pleasant to fantasize about what might happen, if only the minister dares this time and makes a decision. 

Click the alert icon to follow topics: