Gantz Abandoned the Camp

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Benny Gantz after a meeting with Avigdor Lieberman in Ramat Gan, March 9, 2020.
Benny Gantz after a meeting with Avigdor Lieberman in Ramat Gan, March 9, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

Until Thursday, most Israelis believed that Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz ran for prime minister in order to replace Benjamin Netanyahu. On Thursday it became clear that Gantz is Likud’s candidate for the position of speaker of the Knesset and afterward to be appointed foreign minister. Instead of Netanyahu’s successor, Gantz emerged as the successor of Yuli Edelstein and of Yisrael Katz.

It’s hard to think of a more humiliating scenario for a party that began as an alternative to the corrupt and corrupting regime of Netanyahu and for its leader, a former military chief of staff, who was the first person in more than a decade to successfully challenge Netanyahu’s rule.

After President Reuven Rivlin asked him to form the government in the wake of the March 2 election, Gantz chose to degrade himself and to crawl into Netanyahu’s government.

The claim that this is only a necessary stage, a merely technical matter along the way to equal partnership in the government, cannot stand. Gantz’s very willingness to enter Netanyahu’s government as part of a deal with Likud and in opposition to the position of his main partner in leading Kahol Lavan, Yair Lapid, is an exemplar of political ham-handedness.

Gantz was a source of hope to millions of Israelis yearning to put an end to Netanyahu’s rule, which is crushing democracy while tearing the population to shreds. On Thursday their hope was shattered, to the laughter of the opposing camp, the one that led the country into moral corruption and that has now added another soldier to its ranks and bought about the disintegration of the alternative.

Gantz will receive a nice “package” of positions, including, presumably, the Justice Ministry portfolio, which during the past term became a major battlefield for the two opposing camps. But he knows full well that Netanyahu and his colleagues in the “right-wing bloc” will do everything they possibly can to continue to chip away at the rule of law, out of their belief that democracy does not go beyond “majority rule” and that civil equality and the rights of minorities are hollow and meaningless slogans.

The fact that Gantz was voted in by the legislature as speaker of the Knesset with the support of Netanyahu’s bloc and against the will of the bloc that stood behind his candidacy demonstrates the magnitude of the farce. While Netanyahu is keeping his bloc close to his chest, Gantz abandoned his political partners and put an end to the only alternative possible to Netanyahu’s terrible regime.

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

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