Report: Gantz, Lapid Openly Divided Over Unity Gov’t

YERUSHALAYIM -
Leaders of the Blue and White alliance: (L-R) Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi. (Flash90)

There are “substantial differences” among Blue and White MKs over whether to accept an arrangement suggested by President Reuven Rivlin that would lead to the establishment of a unity government – and at a party meeting Monday, those differences bubbled to the surface, with MKs furiously debating on whether or not to accept the deal, Kan News reported.

The Rivlin plan entails a unity government between the Likud and Blue and White, as well as any other parties that care to join, based on whether they are in the right or left bloc. Ministries would be split down the middle between the blocs, and Netanyahu and Gantz would enter a rotation agreement for the Prime Minister’s seat, with Netanyahu going first. If State Attorney Avichai Mandelblit recommends indictments after the hearing process going on now over the corruption cases Netanyahu is implicated in, the Prime Minister will suspend himself until the issues are resolved legally. At that point, Gantz will become acting Prime Minister.

Accepting the plan means that Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister first – and according to the report, Blue and White MKs are divided over that point. Party chairman Benny Gantz, along with Moshe Ya’alon and the MKs aligned with both are willing to accept the deal. Those associated with Yair Lapid, members of his Yesh Atid faction, are opposed.

In response to the report, party sources said Tuesday that Gantz and Lapid are united in rejecting the plan. “Yitzchak Rabin’s heir will not be second to Netanyahu in any government,” the sources said, adding that rumors of an impending split between Gantz and Lapid are wrong.

Speaking at an event Tuesday, Gantz said that internal division in Israel made the state weaker and more vulnerable to enemies. “Social cohesion is a precondition for unity,” he told a conference of the Anti-Defamation League Tuesday. “We agree on 80% of the issues, and we can argue about the other 20%. We can work on what we agree on, that would be better than throwing billions away for another election. We all have one purpose – the good of the State and the welfare of its citizens.”

But while a unity government would be ideal, the unity that Netanyahu has been presenting – a bloc of 55 MKs – was not true unity. “Unity is not a bloc where everyone thinks the same and acts the same on behalf of one man. Unity is when everyone works together for the common good.”