Netanyahu Responds to Gantz-Lapid Electoral Threat

Israeli Prime Minister and head of the Likud party Binyamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media on Thursday night. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded on Thursday night to the triumphant bombast of the new Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, warning that if given the reins of leadership the results would be disastrous.

In a speech broadcast live, even as his rivals held a press conference of their own, Netanyahu struck back, attacking their left-leaning political orientation and their credentials for leadership.

“We have been through this twice before, left-wing generals posing as right wingers…They talk about national unity and then turn over the government to the policies of the left. In 1992, we got Yitzchak Rabin and the disaster of Oslo; in ’99, Ehud Barak and the Second Intifada, suicide bombings on buses and over a thousand [Israelis] killed.”

“When I’m PM, you’re not afraid of getting on a bus or sitting at restaurants,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu warned that if they came to power, Israel’s very existence would be threatened by the Palestinian state he said they intend to establish.

Referring to the rotation deal which would have Gantz as prime minister for two years, then Lapid for two years, Netanyahu said:

“Gantz is prepared to give the position of prime minister to Yair Lapid, whose military record never went farther than being a reporter for Mahane (the IDF magazine). I want you to think about this for a moment.”

In addition, he belittled their lack of background in economics, saying they “do not understand anything about economics and will do what Nisenkorn tells them,” referring to Avi Nisenkorn, the head of the Histadrut who has taken a leave of absence to run on the Gantz-Lapid slate.

“A government like this will destroy Israel economically and establish a Palestinian state on the outskirts of Tel Aviv, next to Afula, next to Be’er Sheva. A Palestinian state that will threaten our existence. That is what they’re planning to do. All of the left, which is part of this disastrous conspiracy, is working to help them bring their ‘solution’.”

Netanyahu accused the center-left bloc of relying on support for a potential coalition from Arab parties “that not only do not recognize the state of Israel, they work to subvert it.

“They will rely on a blocking majority of Arab parties [to prevent a Likud-led coalition]…

“A right-wing, Zionist blocking majority is forbidden [the left says], but a blocking majority with Arab parties which work to destroy Israel is legitimate? That is absurd,” Netanyahu said, a riposte to the scathing criticism of his promotion of a unity deal between Jewish Home and the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, which is led by disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane.