Coalition Cancels Knesset Votes After 'Childish' Gantz Threatens Boycott

Gantz said his party won't participate in votes because important issues aren't being addressed, but coalition sources say move doesn't threaten political stability

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Benny Gantz speaks at the Knesset, last month.
Benny Gantz speaks at the Knesset, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

The government withdrew all bills that had been slated for a Knesset vote on Monday, after Defense Minister Benny Gantz threatened to abstain along with his Kahol Lavan party, in the latest signs of tensions in Israel's fragile ruling coalition.

"This is childish behavior by Gantz, who thinks everyone is stupid," a source in the coalition said. "This isn't about national security, but rather his friends' pensions."

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The source said that Gantz is "trying to undermine the coalition’s stability like a little child. Maybe he’s daydreaming about a government with Bibi again.”

Following a meeting with Gantz, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett acknowledged to reporters: "There's a problem – we'll solve it, as well."

A coalition source said Gantz's move is not a threat to its stability, and Kahol Lavan's partners don't see the party seeking an early election, quitting government or attempting to establish a different coalition.

Explaining his decision, Gantz alleged that other parties were holding up initiatives that are important to his party, mainly concerning efforts to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox men in the military.

The coalition has only a slim majority and is made up of ideologically diverse parties, so refusal by any single party to vote along coalition lines would make it impossible to pass any legislation without opposition votes.

On Sunday, another coalition partner, the United Arab List, ended its week-long boycott and said it will resume voting along coalition lines.

Recently, Gantz instructed his party to criticize the economic plan to reduce the cost of living proposed by Bennett, Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and Economy Minister Orna Barbivai.

Some of the articles in the plan presented by Bennett, Lieberman, and Barbivai do not require Knesset approval. However, the heart of the program, dealing with income tax credit points, requires legislation, and was supposed to come to a vote on the Knesset floor on Monday.

In addition, other government bills were supposed to come to a vote on Monday, including a bill raising the minimum wage, and a bill limiting a prime minister's term to eight years.

Gantz’s coalition partners sharply criticized his choice last week to come out against the government on a matter that, they believe, may threaten its survival. “Gantz only deals with things that matter to him,” a senior government figure told Haaretz. “He gives everybody hell for the Pensions Law that’s only important to him, disappears from Knesset votes without offsetting and makes the coalition lose a lot of votes.”

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