At first glance, it seems pointless to be disappointed in Benny Gantz, once again. His voters should no longer have any expectations of the man who violated his main campaign promise, turned his back on his voters and his colleagues, joined forces with his political rival and gave a Knesset member charged with crimes the majority he needed to form a government.
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Nevertheless, the Kahol Lavan chairman manages to disappoint us again and again, each time in a new way. This disappointment evidently stems from the expectation that despite everything, Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, a pair of former military chiefs of staff, would serve as a Trojan horse within the government and, at the moment of truth, topple Benjamin Netanyahu from within, or at least put the brakes on him and on Israel’s descent down the slope of annexation, corruption and the destruction of democracy.
Nevertheless, we have to recognize reality: Gantz and Ashkenazi have switched sides. At the height of an economic crisis, they lent a hand to the most inflated government in Israel’s history, enacted the so-called Norwegian Law (which lets ministers resign from the Knesset and be replaced by other people on their party’s ticket) and went along with all of Netanyahu’s demands, including his demand for a tax break worth about a million shekels ($290,000).
On Wednesday, Gantz added something else to this dubious list by voicing support for U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan while also revealing a warped diplomatic position. In a briefing for military reporters at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv, he arrogantly declared – in a way that would even have embarrassed Netanyahu – that if the Palestinians aren’t willing to discuss annexation, Israel will move forward without them. “We won’t keep waiting for the Palestinians,” he said. “The Palestinians continue to reject dialogue and remain in their deep shit.”
This isn’t how a political leader talks, and certainly not one who is interested in being an alternative to the inciter in the Prime Minister’s Office. Gantz’s contempt for the Palestinians demonstrates arrogance, pettiness and lack of understanding of the national conflict between the two peoples. If there’s any “deep shit” in which the Palestinians are drowning, it’s the 53-year-old occupation, a messianic project of oppression that has been perpetuated by successive Israeli governments and maintained by the army, formerly headed by Gantz himself.
Instead of exhorting the Palestinians to change, Gantz would do better to ask himself honestly whether he is truly interested in change. If so, he must remember the reasons for his political existence and stop the annexation lunacy. Otherwise, he ought to vacate the field and let other political forces try to finish the job.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.