Benny Gantz Should Be Praised for Compromising, Not Condemned for Capitulating

March 30, 2020 | Jonathan Tobin
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After three inconclusive elections in a year’s time, Israel’s political stalemate seemed to come to an end last week when the leaders of the two largest parties—Benny Gantz and Benjamin Netanyahu—agreed to form a governing coalition together with some of the smaller parties. According to the deal, Netanyahu will serve as prime minister for eighteen months, after which he will be succeeded by Gantz. This compromise, paradoxically, has led to the breakup of Gantz’s Blue and White party, as two of its three constituent factions have refused to join the unity government. Their leaders have denounced Gantz for supposedly crumbling before Netanyahu, but Jonathan Tobin argues that he has acted bravely:

At a moment of crisis for the state of Israel, while everyone else around him was thinking only about short-term political gains and grudges, Gantz chose to save the country from further turmoil—and a possible fourth election—at a time when it was staggered by the high cost of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. The government he forms with Netanyahu will enable the country to pass a budget and begin the work of recovering from an unprecedented economic disaster.

Gantz . . . had it within his power to cripple Netanyahu’s hopes of forming another government by using the votes of the 61 Knesset members who wanted to oust the prime minister to pass a law that would prevent someone currently under indictment (like Netanyahu) from forming a government. That would have doomed Netanyahu, but it also would have plunged Israel into political chaos at a time when the country is under a near-total shutdown as its overburdened medical staff and emergency workers fight the spreading contagion and rising toll of victims.

Though Gantz had been tempted to try to form a government with the support of the Joint Arab List, the former soldier also understood that this was a moment to transcend political grudges. That wasn’t true of [his erstwhile allies] Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, who clearly regard their desire to get even with Netanyahu for past offenses as more important than serving the country during a national crisis. They and many on the left, who have been praying for a chance finally to beat Netanyahu, are enraged that Gantz snatched it away.

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