Lapid attacks Gantz for joining Netanyahu led government

What happened: Yesh Atid-Telem head and soon-to-be Leader of the Opposition Yair Lapid has accused Benny Gantz of “the worst act of fraud” by stealing Blue and White voters in order to join a government with Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Lapid gave an address that was broadcast on live television on Tuesday night in which attacked Gantz for singing an agreement with Netanyahu. He said: “I want to start with an apology. I apologize to all those people who I convinced to vote for Benny Gantz and Kahol Lavan [Blue and White] this past year. I didn’t believe that they would steal your vote and give it to Netanyahu.”
  • Lapid added: “You went to vote for people who promised your children that they would never sit under a Prime Minister indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The opposite happened. It’s the worst act of fraud in the history of this country. Instead of putting Israel before everything, they put their own jobs before anything. You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re on the inside, you’re part of the problem. If you’re on the inside, you’re corrupt.”
  • A short time after Lapid spoke, Gantz gave an address of his own that was also broadcast on live television, in which he defended his decision to form an “emergency national unity government” with Netanyahu. “We left our comfort zone to work from the inside. We preferred to defeat the coronavirus and not to win on social media,” said Gantz, who added: “To hold elections once again while the self-employed are collapsing is reckless.”
  • Gantz said that “the future of the country is more important than the future of its leaders,” adding that he had reached agreements with Netanyahu “that will facilitate a functioning government for us”.

Context: Both speeches represent the dilemma that many Blue and White voters have been facing: continue to fight corruption and head toward a fourth election or opt for unity in order to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn is expected to be the next justice minister, a decision welcomed by top officials in the justice system. However, there is concern that Nissenkorn’s ability to fulfil all aspects of the role will be limited by restrictions on his powers.
  • Writing in Ma’ariv, Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israeli Democracy Institute, said the proposed government “may find itself able to approve much-needed reforms that will serve Israel’s long-term national interests”. However, he warned that the coalition agreement “fails to offer any vision on religion and state, democracy and the fight against corruption”.
  • The Netanyahu-Gantz agreement was also criticised by the right-wing Yamina party. Yamina is expected to get one ministerial portfolio in the new government and has threatened to stay in the opposition.
  • Yediot Ahronot describes the upcoming ministerial allocations within the Likud as a “Game of Thrones” with 20 senior Likud figures expected to fight over 13 positions. Those whose job is probably guaranteed are Israel Katz (finance), Yuval Steinitz (energy), Ze’ev Elkin (environmental protection), Tzachi Hanegbi (regional co-operation) and Yoav Galant (intelligence affairs). However, Likud officials are complaining not only about the amount of ministerial positions available, but also the quality of the portfolios. A feeling was created that they were left with “crumbs” while Blue and White took the quality positions. Netanyahu is expected to announce the distribution of jobs only after the Knesset’s legislation is completed to prevent a possible rebellion. The political fate of many senior Likud officials is up in the air. For example, it is not clear what position will be available for former Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, whilst Gilad Arden is expected to vacate his position in the Ministry of Public Security in favour of Miri Regev. Outgoing Justice Minister Ohana could move to transportation but it remains unclear what will be available for Ministers Tzipi Hotoveli, Dudi Amsalem, Ophir Akunis, and Deputy Minister Avi Dichter.
  • The cabinet is expected to approve later this morning emergency regulations restricting public movement on Memorial Day and Independence Day next week, as well as in the course of the month of Ramadan. The number of people who have died of the coronavirus in Israel rose this morning to 187. The number of coronavirus patients in serious condition stands at 139.

Looking ahead: Before the new “emergency national unity government” can start it will need to be approved by a majority of Knesset members as well as face several legal challenges in-front of the Supreme court.

  • The government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the various political factions have until this Thursday at 2pm to respond to appeals filed against the decision to task Netanyahu with forming the next government.