Editorial

Gantz, the Hope Is a Government Without Netanyahu

Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz attends a party meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, October 3, 2019.
AFP

The meeting on Thursday between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu chairman MK Avigdor Lieberman ended with “no breakthrough,” according to the Likud party. But it seems that the steamroller being used over Kahol Lavan to make it heed the “order of the day” and prevent an additional election may lead to the road being broken through soon. Kahol Lavan co-leader MK Yair Lapid said later Thursday he was willing to forgo his turn as prime minister, as per his rotation deal with MK Benny Gantz, for the sake of a unity government.

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Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz said on Thursday regarding a unity government: “The chance is not yet lost, and hope should not be lost.” It is not clear what hope he’s talking about, but it seems that the plan on the agenda, which President Reuven Rivlin cooked up, that is staring him in the face is a unity government with Netanyahu, who would accept the status of incapacited prime minister if indicted.

The political whirlwind and the desire to avoid another election might cause Gantz to forget the reason his party won 33 Knesset seats and became the largest political party in Israel, namely that the people are sick and tired of Netanyahu. They are sick not only of the abundant criminal accusations now under review at a hearing, but also of his corrupt and cynical politics, which have put his personal survival above any other value, and in the name of which he has pitted parts of Israeli society against each other.

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If Gantz needs a reminder of all this, he could have gotten it on Thursday, just a few minutes after he encouraged the people by saying there is still hope for unity. This time it was David Amsalem, the communications minister appointed by Netanyahu, who claimed in an interview in the Ynet studio: “Mendelblit interfered in the election and decided it,” that the hearing is “illegitimate” and that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is “bizarre.”

This rhetoric, although uttered by Amsalem, represents well the bitter fruit cultivated by Netanyahu himself. Framing the justice system, including its gatekeepers, as enemies of the state, as people who are sabotaging the will of the people and therefore illegitimate, is the crowning glory of the rotten and corrupt government that has brought Israeli democracy to its knees.

As opposed to Yisrael Beiteinu’s statement after the meeting on Thursday, another election might indeed change the political map of Israel. A unity government is not the order of the day. The order of the day is to put an end to Netanyahu’s government.

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