Editorial |

It's Now Clear: Gantz's Party Isn't Seeking to Stop Netanyahu's Dangerous Moves

Haaretz Editorial
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Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the first sitting of the new government, Jerusalem, May 24, 2020
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the first sitting of the new government, Jerusalem, May 24, 2020Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Haaretz Editorial

The farce of the Kahol Lavan party never ends. People who voted for the “anyone but Bibi” party hadn’t yet finished digesting the bitter truth that Benjamin Netanyahu had won another term only thanks to them when they were smacked by the realization that the person who headed this “governmental alternative,” Benny Gantz, has turned out to be Netanyahu’s ideological Siamese twin, even effectively volunteering to serve as coordinator of government activities in the territories during the annexation.

And now it turns out that “their man” on the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, chairman Zvi Hauser – whose Derech Eretz party was part of the Kahol Lavan joint ticket, which promised to stop the dangerous erosion of democracy – is personally pushing Israel down a slippery slope to becoming a race-based state.

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Monday night, as the committee debated extending the section of the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law that bars Palestinians from reuniting to reside with their families in Israel, Hauser proposed that the ban henceforth be based on the nation-state law. This “temporary” legislation, which enables the state to deny any legal status to Palestinians who married Israelis or have first-degree relatives in Israel, was passed in 2003 and has since been extended every year on security grounds. Its annual extension by the Knesset is itself a deception. The security justification is nothing but a fig leaf for demographic concerns based on a desire to preserve racial purity.

Now, Hauser wants to abandon the camouflage and call it by its name. He is urging the government to get up to speed with the constitutional revolution fomented by the enactment of the nation-state law and, instead of making do with the old language of “security considerations,” adopt the new legal jargon of Jewish ethnocracy. The time has come to start enjoying the constitutional fruits of the discrimination institutionalized by the law. “The Basic Law on the Nation-State isn’t a dead letter in Israel’s law books,” Hauser argued, urging the government to grasp the law’s potential for regulating citizenship and entry into Israel. In other words, why did we enact the nation-state law if we can’t use it to exercise control and to decide which Israeli citizens are entitled to be reunited with their families and which aren’t?

The nation-state law is the constitutional cornerstone of apartheid. And naturally, Hauser’s arguments also tie into the intent to annex parts of the West Bank in the framework of U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace plan: Israel intends to expand its violations of its residents’ equal rights on an ethnic/racial basis.

It’s turning out much sooner than expected that when parts of Kahol Lavan joined the right-wing government, their merger was an expression of a deep ideological partnership. Gantz hasn’t sought to mollify or stop Netanyahu; instead, he has given a statesmanlike facade to the prime minister’s dangerous moves.

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