Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s threat to topple the coalition unless his bill to raise salaries for career soldiers is approved by the Knesset has put the government in crisis mode. Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli’s opposition to Gantz’s demand that pensions be raised for Israeli career soldiers has angered close associates of the Blue and White Party leader.

“If there is someone who will break up this government, it is Michaeli and the Labor Party [that she heads],” Blue and White said. “She will bring Netanyahu back to power. Most parties understood that Gantz’s defense bills are important and tempered their opposition over the course of the day. It is only the Labor Party that continues to be obstinate. It’s unclear how she fails to control her party.”

In a statement, the Labor Party said: “As always, the Labor Party will act once again responsibly and ethically. Gantz’s ‘hold me back or I’ll go back to Netanyahu’ method is inappropriate and disrespectful of the coalition partnership. Social sensitivity and solidarity are necessary for the good of the weaker sectors and the existence of this important government is necessary at this time.”

In a message to Gantz on Tuesday, Labor MK Efrat Reytan tweeted: “Yesterday, we were supposed to approve two important bills for the weakest populations—the expansion of unemployment [payments] for those embarking on training, and double allowances. Every day you prevent the passage of these laws, citizens are harmed.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister and Prime Minister-designate Yair Lapid, however, were not concerned by Gantz’s ultimatum. As one coalition member told Israel Hayom: “He won’t break up the government.”

Blue and White MK Eitan Ginzberg explained: “We want this government to exist,” but we can’t have a situation where there is always a reason for the Knesset not to pass the defense minister’s legislation.

“We are upholding our commitment and always voting with the coalition, even on things we don’t like. Without coalition discipline, the government will dissolve,” he said.

Meretz MK Michal Rozin, who opposes Gantz’s plan, said: “The government cannot conduct itself according to ‘majority rules.’ There are things in Meretz that Yamina and Ra’am won’t be able to live with, like, for example, the LGBTQ+ issue and issues concerning religion and state. When there is discussion, understandings can be reached.”

Yisrael Beytenu’s Eli Avidar, meanwhile, resigned on Tuesday from his role as minister-without-portfolio, saying that he did not enter politics to hold an irrelevant position.

Avidar blasted the premier, saying: “Bennett came to make bank. He doesn’t want to realize the rotation [deal with Lapid]. He is not committed to it. He does what [his fellow Yamina party member and Interior Minister] Ayelet Shaked dictates. The economic collapse is registered in the names of lawmakers who harmed the self-employed in Israel. I thought we would pass the anti-Netanyahu legislation, but they haven’t yet passed because there are lawmakers who still want to keep Netanyahu relevant.”

Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar said that he regretted Avidar’s resignation.

“Eli Avidar did a lot to establish a change government in Israel, and I am convinced that despite his being more independent in the Knesset [as a lawmaker], he won’t harm government stability.”

Religious Zionism Party MK Michal Woldiger tweeted: “Eli Avidar resigned and concluded, ‘Desperation is not a work plan.’ In his remarks, he summarized the essence of the ‘change government.'”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.


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