Top Coalition Members Say Gantz Endangering Israeli Government's Stability

Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov
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Benny Gantz at the Knesset, last week.
Benny Gantz at the Knesset, last week.Credit: Emil Salman
Michael Hauser Tov
Michael Hauser Tov

Senior coalition members have been furious with Defense Minister Benny Gantz in recent days and said he is jeopardizing the new government's stability, after he announced two new moves without coordinating them with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett or any other coalition partners.

Gantz announced this week that he planned to act to establish a national commission of inquiry into the so-called submarine affair – allegations of misconduct involving the purchase of submarines and other naval vessels from the German firm ThyssenKrupp.

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Last week, Gantz called for the publication of the minutes from meetings of the coronavirus cabinet. Neither of these announcements was coordinated with Bennett or Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who also serves as alternate prime minister.

A senior coalition figure said Wednesday that Gantz’s conduct risks the stability of the government. “It seems that he doesn’t understand that we’re not in [Benjamin] Netanyahu’s government,” said the figure. “This isn’t a government within a government. We have to work together and in coordination.”

On Wednesday, Gantz’s announcement regarding a commission of inquiry into the submarine affair led to an exchange of accusations between him and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar. Gantz stated that he had sent a draft proposal to establish the commission to the Justice and Finance Ministries, saying he planned to promote the proposal at the cabinet meeting on Sunday. However, Sa'ar’s office said it had never received the document.

Gantz’s office repeatedly claimed that the draft had been passed on to the Justice Ministry, following coordination talks between the two governmental agencies.

Sa'ar’s office slammed the defense minister in response: “This conduct of rushing to release press announcements about proposals before any discussion, any coordination, and any staff work is unprofessional and unacceptable. This hurry and lack of proper discussion, even before the appointment of the previous national commission of inquiry decided on only this week, to investigate the Mount Meron disaster, is unacceptable. The justice minister intends to maintain proper work procedures.”

In November, during the previous government's term, Gantz announced the formation of a commission of inquiry into the submarine affair.

However, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit ordered that the panel hold off on starting work, saying it would overlap with the criminal investigation into the affair. The members of the commission all resigned after Mendelblit made it clear that it would not be able to speak to suspects or address its criminal aspects.

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