Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz should have concluded his statement on Monday with an announcement that his party would be dismantled and he would be retiring from political life. His insistence on remaining in politics – against every survey of his chances of success and despite the damage he did to the camp he heads – shows that same dangerous disconnect that led him into the arms of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Everything Gantz said at that press conference was true; the problem is not in the content of the statements but in the person delivering them. Gantz called for the unification of the center-left. Indeed, the multiplicity of parties is to the detriment of the camp. The camp must come to its senses and unite before the election. “Lapid, Huldai, Bugi, Shelah, Lieberman, Horowitz, Shmuli, Zelikha,” Gantz said, “come, let’s meet, we’ll find a way, we’ll find our common ground.” One may hope that they all answer his invitation – except for he himself. Gantz should go home.
It’s hard not to feel uncomfortable when we hear Gantz – who gave Netanyahu the government, betraying his voters and his partners – trying to look like someone worried about the future of the “Anyone But Bibi” camp and trying to serve as a strategic adviser. “I call on everyone for whom Israel is important, everyone who won’t go with Bibi, to give up their ego and unite. I’m prepared to sacrifice a lot, as I have already proven, for Bibi to go. If the ego goes, Bibi goes.” In retrospect, it wouldn’t have hurt for Gantz to have a bit of ego. Maybe ego would have prevented him from becoming Netanyahu’s doormat.
Gantz admitted that he was wrong to have joined Netanyahu’s government. “He cheated me and he cheated you,” he said. No, Gantz, he did not cheat us, he cheated you. Netanyahu did not cheat the voters of Kahol Lavan, because they never believed him and they had no expectations that he would keep his promise of rotation.
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Gantz’s partners at the time in Kahol Lavan, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, did not fall into the trap because they knew who the man is and what his word is worth, and they tried to warn Gantz every possible way.
But Gantz, you didn’t listen. Not when they tried to dissuade you from joining Netanyahu, and not for the year and a half in which the three of you got crushed while “carrying the stretcher.”
Gantz’s admission of his mistake is too little, too late. He must bear responsibility and leave the arena. Thanks, we’ll take it from here.
The above article is Haaretz’s lead editorial, as published in the Hebrew and English newspapers in Israel.