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Israel’s center-left is in disarray

By pushing the country towards elections, Blue and White’s Benny Gantz is putting not just the party he heads but the entire bloc at risk.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the Jerusalem Municipality on Nov. 10, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz visits the Jerusalem Municipality on Nov. 10, 2020. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
Mati Tuchfeld
Mati Tuchfeld writes for Israel Hayom.

Blue and White Party head Benny Gantz reiterated his refusal to compromise on the state budget in a series of interviews on Saturday night. The move by Gantz means Israel will be heading toward another round of elections soon. Should another election be held, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who says he isn’t interested in elections at this time, will find himself in a pretty good place, all things considered. By pushing the country toward elections, Gantz is putting not just the party he heads but the entire bloc at risk. It seems the center-left is in disarray now more than ever. If things don’t change, Netanyahu’s victory is almost guaranteed.

Last week, Telem Party head and former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Moshe Ya’alon met with Yesh Atid Party leader Yair Lapid to discuss his desire to look for other options outside of their parties’ alliance. At the same time, commentators and politicians are setting the stage for a possible run by former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, and the names of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai and former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin have also come up as possible candidates in the next elections.

But the center-left’s problem won’t be a surplus of names, but rather a surplus of parties if they fail to unite. As things stand, Gantz won’t serve under Lapid, and Lapid won’t serve under Gantz. Ya’alon may be abandoning ship, but he has no intention of serving as Eizenkot’s No. 2, while Eizenkot, for his part, isn’t interested in joining a party with either Ya’alon or Huldai. Labor Party head Amir Peretz wants to join forces with Blue and White, but Gantz seems less keen on that union.

While all of these statements and hints seem aimed at the negotiations ahead, plans, as we all know, tend to go awry at the last minute. The Otzma Yehudit Party was left without an alliance in the lead-up to the most recent election, and in the one before that, Orly Levy-Abekasis’s Gesher Party, whose union with Gantz was nearly a done deal, was left without a political anchor to take her past the electoral threshold.

Should Eizenkot enter politics, and that is not at all for certain, he will need to cross a hurdle no former IDF chief of staff before him has been forced to cross—contempt for the senior position and its dramatic devaluation, a development for which his predecessors who made their way from the IDF headquarters to the Knesset are responsible.

While we have yet to see anyone switch parties for personal reasons on the right, the polls point to Israel being on the brink of the unprecedented situation in which the main party claiming the throne comes from the same bloc as the one in power.

It’s still hard to assess what the possible consequences of such a situation will be. If this remains the case once the campaigns kick off, we may witness an election the likes of which we have not yet seen. If the Likud in recent years took care to situate itself as the leader of the right and attack everyone on the left, it may now end up defending itself from precisely the same line of attacks.

Mati Tuchfeld writes for Israel Hayom.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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