Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu let loose a scathing attack on Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party at an “emergency” Likud rally on Sunday night, reiterating his warning that a government dependent on the support of Arab MKs would pose an “existential threat” to the country.
As Gantz has carried on negotiations with the Joint Arab List in an effort to assemble a coalition and avoid a third round of elections, Netanyahu said that while “an election will be bad for Israel. We don’t want an election. But there’s something much worse, a dangerous minority government dependent on Odeh and Tibi. [That] will be an existential threat to Israel.
Netanyahu quoted Blue and White sources saying that a minority government would only be an “interim government,” for about three months, just long enough to oust him from office.
“I say it’s forbidden for even one month, one day…“Incomprehensible! Incomprehensible! Impossible!”
“Joint List MKs support terrorists and call IDF soldiers murderers. They want IDF soldiers on trial as war criminals. Gantz, I am saying to you, they want you on trial as a war criminal. What are you thinking?”
“To be dependent on them all of the time, and especially now, is a terrible danger to the State of Israel, and an unprecedented breaking point in the history of the state.”
The prime minister called on Gantz to act responsibly and disavow from this moment any intention of forming a minority government with outside Arab support.
Seeking to pre-empt allegations of racism on his part, Netanyahu explained that his opposition to the deal being contemplated is not based on their being Arabs, but on their ideology:
“When I say [Joint] Arab [List], I don’t mean because they’re Arabs. Arabs can be Zionists and support the State of Israel. But the [Joint Arab List] isn’t Zionist, and they don’t support the State of Israel.”
“During the election you campaigned on the slogan ‘Israel above all else’. But now the truth comes out, it isn’t ‘Israel above all else’, it is ‘the government above all else’.”
In response,Blue and White issued a statement deriding the “emergency,” saying:
“Residents of the south did not get an ’emergency rally,’ neither did the sick who are strewn in the corridors, not the elderly or disabled,” the party says in a statement.
“As usual, Netanyahu only worries about Netanyahu.”
The party’s No. 2, Yair Lapid, sought to shift the onus onto the prime minister for insisting on a single negotiating team for his right-wing, religious bloc.
Lapid said, “If Netanyahu is so hysterical about the idea of a minority government – he should come and establish a unity government with us, part from the chareidi-religious-messianic bloc, agree to be second in a [prime ministerial] rotation and we’ll have a unity government within 48 hours.”
“The problem is that Netanyahu has decided, on the advice of his lawyers, that he is going to elections.”
Joint List leader Ayman Odeh declared after the speech that “This evening he sealed his legacy as a bitter criminal who doesn’t know how to lose, only to harm and incite against those he was supposed to serve.”
“All of us, Arabs and our Jewish partners, will breathe a sigh of right relief the day [Netanyahu] goes and we’ll continue to fight for peace, equality, democratic and social justice,” he added in a tweet.