The coalition agreement signed by Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz in April says that on November 17, 2021, the two will rotate positions: Gantz will become prime minister and Netanyahu will take his place as alternate prime minister. This is what they agreed to, what was promised to the other partners in the coalition government and to the president and the Israeli public. It’s also what the Knesset decided.
The linkup between Netanyahu and Gantz was hard to swallow. It raised suspicions and objections, broke up the center-left camp, shattered the hopes of ending Netanyahu’s corrupt rule and raised feelings of betrayal among voters of the Labor Party and Gantz’s Kahol Lavan. Netanyahu and Gantz swore they had forged an emergency government because of the coronavirus crisis, and Netanyahu promised that there would be no tricks or shticks, that there would be a power-sharing coalition government and a rotation.
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As expected, there was no power sharing in this evil government, and the chances of a rotation are nil. Netanyahu, in his craftiness, has trapped the coalition agreement: Without the approval of a state budget, the Knesset will automatically be dissolved. In doing so, he assured himself an exit strategy from the unity government before the rotation date arrived.
Who would have imagined that Netanyahu would seize the state budget and blackmail his partner Gantz to prevent the rotation and the handing over of the premiership to someone else? You need the head of a con man to imagine such a wicked plot, and Gantz is no con man.
Netanyahu’s behavior doesn’t surprise anyone. A partnership between a swindler and a fair person is exactly the way it sounds. But if the 2020 budget isn’t passed in two days, as Tuesday gives way to Wednesday, the Knesset will automatically dissolve. Actually, this could happen sooner, if legislation already on the table passes a final vote.
The bill to dissolve the Knesset was introduced by Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid-Telem and approved in a preliminary vote at the start of the month. Then the House Committee approved it for its next vote, which is due Monday.
Experience shows that Netanyahu will try until the last minute to tempt Gantz into a dubious compromise; that is, he’ll propose that Gantz accept some deal to postpone the rotation. Gantz mustn’t be tempted to accept this. He mustn’t give in. He mustn’t’ get confused. He mustn’t even hold out any hope.
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After all, it makes no difference what deal Netanyahu cooks up, Gantz can be sure it will be a bad one, a promise with no chance of being kept by a person who has no shame. Gantz must stick by the ultimatum he set when he supported the dissolving of the Knesset in a preliminary vote: Carry through with the rotation as planned, or hold a new election.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.