Heavy Pressure on Blue and White MKs Opposed to Arab Plan to Quit

YERUSHALAYIM -
MK Zvi Hauser of Blue and White. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Blue and White leaders are placing heavy pressure on “rebel” MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, presenting them with an “ultimatum” – either vote along with the United Arab List to install Benny Gantz as prime minister, or to resign their Knesset seats, Channel 12 reported Monday. However, the report said, party officials realize that they cannot force the two to resign, and they are free to vote any way they want in the Knesset.

The two are standing in the way of a deal Gantz is trying to hammer out with 12 of the 15 United Arab List MKs – who, together with the votes of his own party and those of Yisrael Beytenu, would vote to install Gantz as prime minister, with the amalgam’s 59 Knesset votes beating out the 58 in the rightwing bloc. Without Hendel and Hauser, Gantz would not have enough votes for the effort.

The only weapon Gantz has at his disposal is political pressure, and according to the report, he and other Blue and White leaders have ramped that pressure up considerably. The pressure includes name-calling, social ostracism, and shrill phone calls. Maariv quoted Blue and White officials as saying that “if they can’t follow the instructions of the head of their Telem faction, Moshe Yaalon, they are invited to resign.”

With that, the report said that the idea of a government formed and supported with Joint Arab List votes is also opposed by Gabi Ashkenazi, the fourth member, along with Gantz, Yaalon and Yair Lapid, of the Blue and White leadership. Ashkenazi has remained silent for now, the report said, preferring to let Hendel and Hauser take the heat.

Meretz MK Tamar Zandberg said in a social media post Monday that “we warned during the campaign that Hendel and Hauser were ‘trojan horses’ who would ruin the Blue and White agenda, but the situation now is so ridiculous that I don’t want to even bother to say ‘I told you so.’ Understand what is going on – two Blue and White MKs are trying to prevent their party leader, Benny Gantz, from becoming prime minister.”

As of Monday, analysts said that the two MKs remained steadfast and are continuing to refuse to support the move. In a social media post, rightwing journalist Chanoch Daum said that Hendel in particular was doing his best “to keep Gantz honest. He is keeping the promise the heads of Blue and White made in every interview before the election,” that Blue and White would not join with the List in forming a government, or rely on its support to do so in any way. “He is physically blocking the shame in which three former IDF Chiefs of Staff are willing to form a questionable minority government” relying on the votes of MKs among whom are supporters of terror, Daum said.