Opinion |

A Military Coup Coming to Replace Netanyahu

Maybe it isn’t surprising that a system whose task is to fight Israel's real enemies rebels against Netanyahu, the expert in inventing imaginary foes

Former Israeli chief of staff Benny Gantz and his electoral ally, former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon in Tel Aviv, January 29, 2019
Former Israeli chief of staff Benny Gantz and his electoral ally, former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon in Tel Aviv, January 29, 2019Credit: AFP

Anyone who doesn’t understand what three ultra-rightists are doing in the inner circle of the left’s new hope Benny Gantz apparently hasn’t taken Hosen L’Yisrael’s color, name and election slogan seriously: “Neither right nor left.” Gantz hasn’t set up a party – he’s set up a political-assassination unit.

It’s interesting to realize that despite the overtness of Gantz’s political move, it is seen as a political move under ideological camouflage. It’s as if Gantz’s image, like Yair Lapid’s, is engineered by media advisers, who are also concocting a sterile ideological platform for him that will “work” on the voters and “steal” votes from the right. But when we follow Gantz’s moves it appears that their “secrecy” is the biggest open secret in Israel. The man colored his election billboards khaki, called his party Hosen L’Yisrael (Resilience for Israel), recruited a retired chief of staff as his No. 2 and presented him to the public as his commander. He wishes to recruit at least one more chief of staff (Gabi Ashkenazi), if not two (Ehud Barak); his campaign clips show the army under his command wiping Gaza out and returning it to “the stone age;” and his famous silence is nothing but part of “the Israeli secrecy code” – which he defended in his speech.

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What else must he do to make us understand that this is a military coup by democratic means – don his uniform? What isn’t clear here? It’s the IDF against Benjamin Netanyahu.

And not only the IDF. In recent years it seems the entire security establishment has become a greenhouse for growing Netanyahu opponents. Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin came out publicly against Netanyahu, especially over the “Iran” fixation, at the price of becoming “traitors” in the eyes of the right.

The former prime ministers who grew up in the IDF developed a real loathing for Netanyahu (Yitzhak Rabin, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak). David Bitan couldn’t have said it better: “Something happens to those who serve as heads of the Mossad and the Shin Bet. Along the years they become leftists.” Bitan said this as coalition chairman.

Well, perhaps that “something” is called Benjamin Netanyahu. Maybe it isn’t surprising that a system whose task is to fight real enemies rebels against Netanyahu, the expert in inventing imaginary foes. Recruiting the “Bogie trio” – three former senior officers who were close to Netanyahu and turned their backs on him – is almost an elementary step in Gantz’s military operation. Where the left sees rightists, Gantz sees vital partners to the targeted assassination of Netanyahu’s rule.

>>Leftists, don't jump shipNetanyahu's worst nightmare is a last minute move by top rival Gantz

Gantz has surrounded himself by three pronounced right-wingers: Ya’alon, who is convinced Netanyahu and his attorney are involved in the case of the shady submarine purchase from Germany, dubbed Case 3000; Yoaz Hendel, formerly Netanyahu’s director of communications and public diplomacy, who resigned following the Natan Eshel affair, which he exposed to the premier’s chagrin; and Zvi Hauser, who was Netanyahu’s cabinet secretary.

But their presence is not an ideological camouflage act. Quite the opposite, it conveys to the public that this is not an ideological coup. Gantz isn’t here to return the occupied territories or not to return them. He is here to send Netanyahu into retirement. They are here to make it clear that the objection to Netanyahu and all he represents, as well as the understanding that Netanyahu has poisoned the public sphere and corrupted the state and the society, crosses political camps. Neither right nor left.

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