Benny Gantz’s former Blue and White party colleagues Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon vented their indignation at his decision to join a Likud-led unity government at a press conference Thursday night.
Lapid denounced Gantz’s deal with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a speech laced with familiar anti-chareidi slurs:
“What’s being formed today isn’t a unity government or an emergency government. It’s another Netanyahu government. Benny Gantz surrendered without a fight and crawled into Netanyahu’s government. He joined the chareidi-extremist bloc.”
Claiming he was betrayed by Gantz, Lapid continued: “We ran together because Benny Gantz looked me in the eye and said he would never sit in this bad government. I believed him. Together with us over a million Blue and White voters marched from street to street and from bridge to bridge… They feel betrayed today, and justifiably so. Their votes were stolen and given as a gift to Netanyahu.
“The coronavirus crisis doesn’t give us the right or permission to abandon our values. We promised not to sit under a prime minister with three criminal indictments. We promised not to sit in a coalition of extremists and extortionists. We said we wouldn’t allow anyone to undermine Israel’s democracy. And on this week of all weeks, in which the attacks on the justice system were at their worst, a prize is given to those who disobey the law. A prize to criminality. You can’t crawl into a government like that and tell us you did it for the good of the country,” Lapid said.
The last was a reference to Gantz’s statement earlier in the day at the Knesset where he said that his decision was a matter of putting the country first during an emergency, and that he was not abandoning the principles he had campaigned on.
Moshe Yaalon similarly condemned the deal, saying that entering a government that “symbolizes everything we oppose” is “incomprehensible and disappointing.”
However, Yaalon promised to support all efforts in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Yair Lapid promised to “support any decision that will help the health care system, help put the economy back on track…We’ll keep a watchful eye on this government.”
From the Gantz camp came a different story, as Channel 12 quoted sources saying that Lapid wanted to break up Blue and White even before the unity deal became a serious possibility.
They claimed that Gantz decided to go ahead with it once he realized Lapid would rather put the country through a fourth election than sit with Netanyahu in any circumstances.
According to the Kan broadcaster, Gantz told Lapid he could have the ministerial portfolio of his choice if they entered the government together. But Lapid refused.