Yair Lapid is planning to break up his partnership with Benny Gantz, Blue and White party insiders told Yediot Acharonot, The report quoted the sources as saying that an effort to separate himself from Gantz was behind Lapid’s ongoing attacks on chareidim, who remain his party’s only path – other than a unity government with Binyamin Netanyahu – to power.
Lapid believes that if the party does enter a Netanyahu-led government, Gantz would get the top portfolio – probably Defense Minister – while he would be sublimated in the joint government and given a much less prestigious position. By separating from Gantz, on the other hand, Lapid will be able to proclaim himself leader of the opposition, especially considering the weakness and lack of a leadership personality on the left.
A Blue and White campaign video on Monday sparked charges of incitement and anti-Semitism from chareidi MKs over its portrayal of them as seeking nothing but money to fund yeshivos. The video consists of flashes of social media messages, in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu contacts his “natural partners” – the chareidi parties and the United Right List – asking for assistance in the election, and shows the MKs he contacts making demands.
MK Betzalel Smotrich of the United Right List is seen asking to annex all of Yehudah and Shomron, while Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri says he wants “a trillion shekel.” Rabbi Litzman is seen demanding full funding for yeshivos.
If there was any chance that Blue and White’s efforts to reach out to chareidim could have borne fruit, those chances were now dashed, United Torah Judaism MK and Deputy Health Minister Rabbi Litzman said. “Mr. Benny Gantz, as long as you do not publicly disassociate yourself from this campaign of incitement, you are a full partner to it and responsible for the crimes of hate that are being committed against a large group of Israelis which fights for its rights and needs, and is loyal to its principles and values.”
The sources told Yediot Acharonot that the video had been produced at Lapid’s behest – without the knowledge of Gantz, or other top members of the party, Gabi Ashkenazi and Moshe Yaalon. Campaign managers for the party are also very unhappy with it, telling the newspaper that it was causing the party damage. “The attitude in the party is that we are going to go our separate ways the day after the election. Lapid wants to return to Yesh Atid and use it as his base to attack chareidim,” the report quoted the sources as saying.
Speaking in a radio interview, Ronen Zur, former campaign manager for Blue and White said Lapid’s behavior was not surprising. “He is shooting himself in the foot, and stirring up a public debate about his rotation agreement with Gantz,” Zur told Radio Yerushalayim. “His desire to hurt chareidim is stronger than his survival instinct. But he is distancing not just chareidim, but traditional voters as well. The video was very childish – I am not sure what the logic behind it is.”