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Unity Under Bibi Would Be Capitulation

Haaretz Editorial
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A Kahol Lavan billboard behind a Likud electoral billboard, Bnei Brak, February 26, 2020.
A Kahol Lavan billboard behind a Likud electoral billboard, Bnei Brak, February 26, 2020.Credit: AFP
Haaretz Editorial

The worrying reports that Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz is leaning toward agreeing to a unity government in which Benjamin Netanyahu would serve as prime minister first – even at the price of breaking up the Kahol Lavan joint ticket – implies a complete capitulation by Gantz. It would also be a suicidal step for the governmental alternative to Netanyahu that he built.

Granted, Kahol Lavan said that “talks with Likud’s negotiating team have been halted,” and that “contrary to what has been reported, there are no agreements.” But Gantz didn’t deny the gist of those reports. In fact, he sounded like someone preparing the way for a unity government led by a criminal defendant.

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The rhetoric Gantz is using to justify this defeatist capitulation revolves around the emergency created by the spread of the coronavirus. This cannot be accepted. Entering a unity government under Netanyahu would violate the campaign promise made by Kahol Lavan, and by Gantz personally as the man heading the ticket. Moreover, this wouldn’t only be the violation of a promise – it would actually undermine the reason for the ticket’s establishment and continued existence.

“Anyone but Bibi” wasn’t just Kahol Lavan’s main campaign promise; it was effectively its only one. Every other ideological issue – diplomatic, social, economic, security – was displaced, obscured, blurred and especially silenced in the name of this one supreme goal: Liberating Israel from the clutches of the defendant in the Prime Minister’s Office, and putting an end to his corrupt and corrupting reign.

On top of all that, this would be political idiocy of the highest order, because sooner or later, Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi will discover what their colleagues in Kahol Lavan’s cockpit, Moshe Ya’alon and Yair Lapid, have already learned through bitter experience: That Netanyahu is exactly what people say of him – a liar, devoid of credibility and dangerous to Israel, just as Kahol Lavan’s leadership so ably explained in election after election. And then, when people once again seek an alternative, nobody in Kahol Lavan’s electorate will give it their vote.

Gantz must not join Netanyahu. He must not hook up with a criminal defendant. He must not join someone who has brought Israeli democracy to its knees. He has no mandate to do so.

The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.

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