Benny Gantz, leader of Israel’s Blue and White Opposition appears to have abandoned his plan to form a minority government with the tacit support of the 15 MKs of the Palestinian Joint List. If current reports are to be believed, he has instead moved to forming a unity government with the Likud in which Netanyahu would lead the country as PM for the first 18 months. Gantz would follow for the remainder of the term as PM. Likud has announced an agreement with Gantz on the outline of the deal. Gantz, in turn, has refused to confirm it. It is, of course, possible that Likud is making an empty claim, attempting to pressure the B&W chief into accepting its terms. It wouldn’t be the first time such posturing occurred.
If this report is correct, I’m clueless as to why he abandoned a coalition which had 61 votes, and the prospect of forming a government that would offer welcome relief from the right-wing extremism of the Likud. Clearly, there was dissent in the ranks: Orly Levy Abekasis was bought off and abandoned the Labor Party claiming Palestinians wielding any form of power was too much for her. And Blue and White MKs Hendel and Hauser also threatened to bolt over the issue. But after they made noises about doing so, their threats were never mentioned further. So I assumed they were on board.
Gideon Levy in his latest, very depressing column calling for a unity government. says that the right-wing fringes of the Opposition coalition nixed the minority government. I presume he’s referring to these three MKs. But since he doesn’t go into detail, it’s unclear what he means.
Just as there was dissension in the ranks about forming a minority government, there appears to be even more dissension about the alternative. There is talk that Blue and White, which consists of three separate parties which united to fight the last few elections, will split apart. But even with reduced numbers, it would be able to provide enough seats to guarantee a new governing “unity” coalition:
Netanyahu blamed Gantz’s number two in Blue and White, Yair Lapid, for holding up the signing of the deal. If Lapid continues to refuse to the enter the government, Blue and White would be left with only the MKs from Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party, part of MK Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem Party and none of the MKs from Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party.
The greatest danger of forming a unity government is that Netanyahu, a brilliant tactician (and pitiful strategist) will simply outmaneuver Gantz, as he has so many center-left partners (Barak, Peretz, etc.). I predict that in the event Gantz signs this deal, within 18 months he will have been thoroughly co-opted by Netanyahu. Instead of a leader of the Opposition, Gantz will have become Bibi’s facilitator. Either BIbi will drive him out of government or simply render him toothless and irrelevant.
As Levy correctly notes, Blue and White really stands for nothing in particular. It is a pastiche of political egos stitched together by petty ambitions of a bunch of generals and a former TV personality. Without a real platform and political principles, Netanyahu will make mincemeat out of all of them. The result will be yet another failure of the Opposition to offer any real alternative and the continuation of the rule of the fascist right.
This, in turn, will continue the descent of Israel into the maw of a Judeo-supremacist state: the Jewish equivalent of white supremacy. To be clear, though Israel calls itself a “Jewish state,” the way in which it defines such Jewishness is almost entirely foreign to me. Israel is not a Jewish state. It is a Judean-settler state. It is a crude distortion of anything Jewish. It is a betrayal of the prophetic values inculcated in me by synagogues, rabbis and institutions of Jewish learning. An Israeli unity government will only confirm and further these tragic developments.