Bibi and Benny: The Odd Couple
Did Benny Gantz betray those who voted for the Blue and White party by joining Netanyahu to form a government in which he will play second fiddle to the sitting prime minister? Many people seem to think so, among them Yair Lapid and Boogie Yaalon who have left Gantz and chosen to remain in opposition together with many of their followers. Both had served in Netanyahu governments in the past, which may account for their distrust of him and their refusal to join him again.
Others believe that Gantz is helping to save the country by preventing yet another election and bringing stability to the government of Israel. For what it’s worth, I’m among them even though I voted for the Meretz-Labor alliance. I believe that this was the right move at a time when Israel needs stable and firm leadership to which Gantz will contribute. The fact that Gabi Ashkenazi, the fourth of the quartet that created the Blue and White party and arguably the most gifted of them all, has joined him confirms my hunch.
It also became obvious that Gantz couldn’t form a government, because at least two of the Knesset members elected on his ticket rejected the notion of a government having to rely on the Arab parties to be able to function. Joining Netanyahu was perhaps less prudent than desperate.
For the next 18 months, Gant is said to be Netanyahu’s deputy and the country’s foreign minister. Ashkenazi, also a former chief of staff, will become defense minister. Whether Gantz will ever be prime minister is less certain. Netanyahu, if he’s still not in jail, is likely to come up with some tricks that will keep him in power. The two are, indeed, a very odd couple. But they may help to stabilize the country.
In a speech the other day, Gantz made it clear that he hasn’t changed his politics (which has never been very far from Netanyahu’s) but he has decided to act for the good of the country, even at the cost of losing associates. He has been left with some 15 Members of Knesset who still support him, enough to form a stable government with Likud and its right-wing allies.
The left-wing Meretz and Liberman’s “Russian” Yisrael Beiteinu are staying in the Opposition. The Joint (Arab) List that got 15 mandates remains outside. Its hopes of having influence in a Gantz government have not materialized.
Ironically, rumor has it that Yuli Edelstein, who challenged the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the election of a Speaker by resigning and was reviled by many for doing so, may be re-installed.
We live in very trying times. A Rabbinic dictum offers a different reading of the charge in Psalm 119, “It is time to act for the Lord, they have violated your teaching” by suggesting that there’re times when we have to understand it differently: instead of heferu (they have violated) we must read it as an imperative: haferu, you shall violate. Perhaps now is such a time. Perhaps Benny Gantz is its agent. Perhaps the seeming violation of an agreement with fellow-politicians may help us being saved from much more serious calamities.
Jerusalem 22. 3.20 (Motzaei Shabbat) Dow Marmur