Editorial |

No to an Alternative Government

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
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Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, in February.
Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, in February.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

Since Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced plans to dissolve the Knesset and call an early election, Benjamin Netanyahu and his political partners have been trying to prevent a new election and instead to establish an alternative government headed by him. These efforts have included attempts to lure Defense Minister Benny Gantz back into the “parity” trap they laid for him after the March 2020 general election.

As things stand now, it appears that Gantz has learned his lesson and rejected these offers completely. “In pain and sorrow, I can say that Netanyahu has exhausted the political trust that can be given to him, and therefore such things are irrelevant,” the defense minister said Tuesday during a caucus of lawmakers from his Kahol Lavan party. Gantz’s response is encouraging. It must be hoped that in the days to come, the temptation of leading the government doesn’t make him forget who he’s dealing with.

Netanyahu is not only a criminal defendant who threatened to destroy the institutions of the state to evade justice and remain in power, he is also the person who defrauded Gantz personally by signing him to a partnership agreement in which a legal land mine had been planted – a provision specifying what would happen if a national budget was not passed – that allowed Netanyahu to avoid honoring their rotation agreement. Netanyahu did not hesitate to exploit that mine, even at the height of a global pandemic.

A fifth general election within three years is bad news both for political stability and economic health. In addition, Israeli elections involve slander and incitement campaigns cooked up by Netanyahu and his partners in the racist, extreme right – a further deterrent against holding them more often than necessary.

Nevertheless, a government headed by Netanyahu or that includes him as a member is more dangerous to Israel, its institutions, its social fabric and its spirit than another election. Netanyahu is the worst of all possible options.

It turns out that it is not only the opposition that is promoting this misbegotten idea. Coalition members – including Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked – are doing the same. She even said on Wednesday that she would agree to serve in an alternative government led by Netanyahu.

This scenario must be avoided at all costs. The members of the coalition must complete the legislative procedures to dissolve the Knesset rapidly. It must also be hoped that Shaked’s Yamina party colleague MK Nir Orbach, who chairs the Knesset House Committee, does not delay the advance of the bill to dissolve the Knesset in order to allow the establishment of such an alternative government.

That would be a dishonorable move and a humiliating final note to the so-called government of change.

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

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