Holy Land Drama: Blue and White Splits after Gantz Joins Netanyahu Government

With folksy charm, 'Ruvi' confronts Israel vote deadlock
AFP

TEL AVIV – In a dramatic day for Israeli politics, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his erstwhile rival Benny Gantz made an alliance deal as Gantz was voted in as Knesset speaker, prompting his Blue and White party to split up in protest.

Gantz was voted in as Knesset speaker with the full support of the right-wing bloc plus some Blue and White Knesset members with a full 74 MKs. Eighteen voted against.  Yesh Atid, Labor and Yisrael Beytenu MKs boycotted.

Gantz will likely resign from his post after a unity government is formed with Netanyahu’s Likud party, and he is expected to be given a senior portfolio. Israeli media reported that Gantz will be offered the post of foreign minister before taking up the premiership in a rotation deal with Netanyahu in September 2021. A Likud MK will reportedly then takeover as Knesset speaker.

Blue and White, comprised of Gantz’s Israel Resilience party, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem party, splintered off in three directions. Israel Resilience joined the government, Lapid will lead the opposition and Telem has disintegrated with Ya’alon out and renegade MKs, Tzvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel, reportedly in.

Lapid wished his former fellow partt members good luck and left that party’s WhatsApp group. His Yesh Atid party and Telem requested to keep the Blue and White name as per the Knesset filing since they have more MKs than Gantz’s splintered Resilience party.

“Gantz decided to crawl into Netanyahu’s government,” Lapid complained.

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg slammed Gantz for uniting with Netanyahu.

“You’ll end up a rug under the feet of an alleged crook, an inciter and racist,” the far-left politician said. “We’re standing here in shock trying to internalize the depth of the deception… the disaster you’re inflicting on millions of voters [who backed] the left-democratic bloc… who sought an alternative [to Netanyahu].

“What have you done, Benny Gantz? How can you do this to the millions of voters who supported you?” she said, adding that her party “will have no part in this.”

Labor MK Merav Michaeli similarly blasted Gantz.

“You wanted to be Yitzhak Rabin but you ended up like another former IDF chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, a nice man but a caricature of a politician who gave into Netanyahu and whose career ended shortly afterward,” she said.

Channel 12’s pundit Amit Segal said on Thursday evening that the new coalition would also include the Labor party which would split from its alliance with Meretz. Chili Tropper of the Resilience Party will be handed the justice portfolio and Gabi Ashkenazi will become defense minister, according to Segal’s report.

 

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