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The Real Task of Benny Gantz’s Panel

Akiva Eldar
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Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at a meeting in Ramle, Israel, July 2020.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) at a meeting in Ramle, Israel, July 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Akiva Eldar

As expected, the messages sent from the prime minister’s residence ordered his lackeys to attack Benny Gantz over his decision to establish a panel of inquiry on the submarine affair.

The responses ranged from “political use of the military” to “a desire to attract votes” to a threat to establish an inquiry panel on Gantz’s former firm Fifth Dimension.

What’s so terrible about reviewing the security establishment’s acquisition of the Saar 6 warship and submarines, and investigating the work relations between those involved in the deal? Who does it bother to examine the status of the brokers in the purchases and in the security establishment’s export deals?

Indeed, this is the mandate of the governmental panel of inquiry. There is not a word in it about the prime minister, no mention of corruption or attack on his ethics.

Not only this, but Gantz’s announcement explicitly stated that the inquiry would be done “without harming the proper management of the ongoing criminal proceedings.” Indeed, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit decided to exempt Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from these proceedings.

So, what’s all the fuss about? The fuss should be about the reactions to the establishment of the inquiry panel. The stench of a deal between the prime minister and his alternate, Gantz, arises from this story. This deal overshadows the exchange of the director general of the Prime Minister’s Office for the Finance Ministry’s accountant general.

Netanyahu gained another opportunity to whine and portray himself as the victim. At a time when he is working like a dog to open the gates of Dubai’s luxury hotels for us, Gantz undermines him and invents a panel of inquiry. It’s as if the leftist protesters disturbing the leader’s sleep with their inflatable submarines weren’t enough for him.

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting with Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, May 7, 2020Credit: Amit Shabi

If they continue to demonstrate after Gantz gives them a panel of inquiry, it will be irrefutable proof of the desire of the Black Flag and Crime Minister movements to overthrow a sitting prime minister. There’s not a hint of corruption here.

It seems to be no coincidence that the announcement about the establishment of a panel of inquiry came just days before the hearing on the petition to the High Court of Justice against the prime minster, the defense minister and other officials demanding establishment of an inquiry panel regarding the submarines and boats.

The petition included affidavits by former senior defense officials raising troubling questions about Netanyahu’s behavior in everything regarding the deals with the German firm ThyssenKrupp.

The decision to appoint an inquiry panel will make it harder on the justices to simultaneously order the establishment of a commission of inquiry, all the more so to direct Mendelblit to order the investigation of Netanyahu as a suspect in the affair.

A toothless government panel of inquiry is a hundred times more convenient for Netanyahu than a state commission of inquiry that has authority to question witnesses as suspects.

Gantz, for his part, fulfilled his obligation to his constituents for an investigation of the submarine affair. Perhaps establishing a commission of inquiry will succeed in dispersing the brave demonstrators who stand outside his home nightly and spend their evenings in detention.

The members of the inquiry panel are good, serious people. There is no doubt they will use the limited tools they received to carry out the duty imposed on them as best they can.

In any event, this commission of inquiry has already filled the primary role intended for it. It has contributed to extending the life of the government most dangerous to Israeli democracy ever seen.

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