Blue and White head Benny Gantz has backed off from the idea of a minority government backed by the Joint Arab List, and is prepared to join an emergency government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu, Ha’aretz reported. The party plans to promote legislation that will freeze the current political situation for six months – leaving Netanyahu as prime minister and the current Cabinet in place – deferring any changes until after the summer.
The reason, of course, is the coronavirus crisis. Under the plan, most political and social issues will be set aside, with a sort of status quo on those matters for the period; meanwhile, the Blue and White-led coalition, including Labor-Meretz, the Joint List and Yisrael Beytenu, will either support or not actively oppose government actions on dealing with coronavirus.
Channel 12 reported that Gantz, after consulting with confidantes, decided on the move because of fears that he would be ousted by others seeking leadership of the party, such as Gabi Ashkenazi or Yair Lapid, if he tried to form a government but failed, as expected. The crisis gives Gantz the breathing room he needs to shore up his power base without losing face, as the coronavirus crisis gives him a reason to back away from what many Israelis see as petty politics, the report said.
A poll released Wednesday said that 57% of Israelis were satisfied with the way Netanyahu is handling the coronavirus crisis, while 61% approved of the approach of Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar-Siman Tov, which tends to extreme caution. Meanwhile, only 8% approved of the recent actions of Blue and White, including its extraordinary efforts to establish a minority government supported by the United Arab List, and its political jockeying while Israelis are on virtual lockdown because of coronavirus.