(July 1, 2020 / JNS) Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz is starting to lose his patience. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is schooling him daily and he is constantly being ridiculed by his partners-turned-rivals in Yesh Atid, who present him in the media as a gullible political novice.
Trying to bolster his image, Gantz, who is also defense minister and alternate prime minister, is going after Netanyahu’s current weak spot—the sovereignty bid. While politically Netanyahu does not need Blue and White to push the move through, the Americans require Likud and Blue and White to be united on the issue.
But Netanyahu and Gantz are locking horns on too many issues, too soon and too aggressively. Gantz may have no real recourse against Netanyahu, but he also knows that, despite the polls, Netanyahu has no real other option either.
Calling early elections during the coronavirus crisis, with a recession looming, could backfire in the worst possible way, as the number the polls currently predict for Likud and the Israeli right may prove to be written on ice. Gantz is well aware of this and it allows him to take calculated risks.
Netanyahu’s attempts to keep tensions in the coalition at a simmer only to have them boil over just before the rotation agreement comes into effect and Gantz takes over as prime minister may also backfire.
Under other circumstances—of coordination and cooperation—Netanyahu could foster a situation in which Blue and White ministers drift away from the party and, when push comes to shove,prefer to stay in a Netanyahu government even if Gantz exits it. That could prevent another election and guarantee that a Netanyahu-led government will be in power for years. But the constant bickering keeps Blue and White ministers close to Gantz, bolstering him against any threat posed by Netanyahu or Likud.
But at the end of the day, this is a battle Gantz can’t win. He can flex his muscles and throw wrenches in various wheels, but Netanyahu still holds all the power. The coalition deal affords the prime minister more exit points, and he is far less wary of the possibility of another election.
Another option is that Netanyahu and Gantz are more coordinated than we give them credit for, that Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria is not on the agenda and that Netanyahu prefers Gantz to be portrayed as the one that pulled the rug out from under it.
It’s hard to ignore the fact that both sides have something to gain from being at odds, further increasing the chances that it’s all an act. If that is the case, then Netanyahu and Gantz are putting on the best show in town.
Still, while conspiracy theories can never be discounted when it comes to Israeli politics, this one may be a step too far.
Mati Tuchfeld writes for Israel Hayom.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.
Support Jewish Journalism
with 2020 Vision
One of the most intriguing stories of the sudden Coronavirus crisis is the role of the internet. With individuals forced into home quarantine, most are turning further online for information, education and social interaction.
JNS's influence and readership are growing exponentially, and our positioning sets us apart. Most Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas. JNS is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.
During this crisis, JNS continues working overtime. We are being relied upon to tell the story of this crisis as it affects Israel and the global Jewish community, and explain the extraordinary political developments taking place in parallel.
Our ability to thrive in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters. Monthly donations in particular go a long way in helping us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make during these challenging times. We thank you for your ongoing support and wish you blessings for good health and peace of mind.