Unity? What unity are they talking about?

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right. (Flash90)

Benny Gantz was the knight on a white horse for the central-left camp in Israel. He was a promise to a more balanced, liberal and open state of Israel and to a return to sanity after Netanyahu’s radical years of incitement against anybody who opposes him. In the past year, Gantz was the number one target of this incitement. He was so threatened that the Shin Bet needed to secure him. And more importantly – Gantz’s most significant promise was that he was there to replace Netanyahu!

By entering the government under Netanyahu, he has sacrificed the chance for curing Israel’s problems.

It is true that the State of Israel is facing a challenging time with serious problems to resolve – COVID-19 has uncovered the fundamental flaws in the health system, which, surprisingly, after years of neglect, budget cuts and no strategic thinking, is still functioning well under the circumstances. The COVID-19 crisis is a severe challenge both health-wise and economically as no economy can last when no one is working, and people will have no money to buy food or pay for their living costs.

Gantz’s move seems a compromise for the people in Israel, but it also shows political short-sight. Netanyahu is a skilled politician with a killer instinct, while the leadership of Blue and White (Gantz’s political party) seemed quite confused. Netanyahu controlled and still controls the media in Israel and has set the tone regarding everything while he has had no opposition. In his last media performances, Netanyahu used the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to provide a “state to the nation” speech after refusing to do so for years. In every speech, he made sure to scare the audience, stating we are facing a catastrophe and calling on Gantz to join his government to create an emergency government.

Many states are facing the COVID-19 crisis, but only in one was the prime minister calling for somebody else to hold his hand. Netanyahu, who outsmarts everyone, did it since he had lost the elections and knew he didn’t have a majority to form a government. Gantz was able to get 61 votes, which placed  him as the one should form the government, but he chose to show “responsibility” and keep Netanyahu in power.

Gant’s u-turn was made in the understanding that Netanyahu would do “no tricks and no shticks” (said by Netanyahu) – a 50/50 government, with Netanyahu as prime minister for the period of the first 18 months, followed by rotation with Gantz as PM.

To maintain a good Shalom ba’yit, peace at home, both sides need to compromise and move towards the other side. For a good deal, both parties have to sacrifice. What Gantz is doing at the moment is proposing how Israel’s upcoming government will look like in terms of who will be nominated as a minister. Nothing about what policies will be executed.

The only thing seeming steady at this moment is that Gantz will support a law bypassing the “Deri-Pinhasi precedent” – a previous Supreme Court statement that a government official indicted on serious charges must be removed from office if they do not resign on their own accord, in order to prevent Netanyahu from stepping down even though he is charged with three criminal records.

What other compromises will take place? The people of Israel will have to compromise with a gigantic government (more than 30 ministers) with new un-needed titles (Ministry of Cyber & Digital Threats, and division of other offices such as Ministry of Labor and Ministry of Social Services in order to accommodate more bored politicians…). Is that really what the State of Israel needs in these desperate times?

Netanyahu will continue to delegitimize whoever threatens him or whomever he can delegitimize to gain political benefits. And more than that – Now that Netanyahu was able to split the opposition, he doesn’t really need Gantz so I wouldn’t be surprised if Gantz will find himself sitting in the Opposition seats at the Knesset.

The machers win, the people of Israel lose. Call it, “a Machers’ government,” but please don’t lie with the word Unity.

About the Author
Yaakov (Kobi) Cohen is an Israeli-American, born in Jerusalem and now reside to New York City where he works in a Jewish Non-for-Profit. As a political activist, Cohen is most interested in the Israeli-American Jewish relationship and its impact on the future of the Jewish world and seeking to build bridges between Israelis & Jewish Americans, or at least establish a different dialogue. Kobi is a co-founder of Israel Shelanu and Host of BALAGAN - Explaining Israeli Politics Podcast
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