Report: Netanyahu Threatens Gantz to Accept Annexation or Go to the Polls

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz at the weekly Cabinet meeting, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Yerushalayim,  Sunday. (Marc Israel Sellem/POOL)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave Defense Minister Benny Gantz an ultimatum to join the annexation effort or to take the country into yet another round of elections, Yisrael Hayom reported on Monday.

According to the report, Netanyahu was surprised to learn that Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi have reservations over the annexation plan.

Ahead of the March elections, Gantz met with President Donald Trump in Washington, and declared that he was willing to adopt the plan. Just two months later, sitting around the coalition negotiation table when forming the new coalition, Netanyahu understood that he wouldn’t get anywhere with Gantz and Ashkenazi.

Netanyahu has veto power over the annexation bid, unlike other matters specified in the coalition agreement with Blue and White.

The truth is that on paper, Netanyahu has a coalition majority even without Blue and White, but other factors could deter him from implementing the annexation.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu and Gantz have had extensive meetings over the last week to discuss various scenarios of the plan. But Gantz has reportedly been hesitant to fast-track the annexation process, which the government is free to pursue after July 1 as per the coalition agreement.

According to reports, Gantz prefers a multilateral diplomatic initiative, with benefits given to Palestinians as well, as opposed to a unilateral move that could see up to 30% of Yehudah and Shomron come under Israeli sovereignty.

According to Yisrael Hayom, during their talks Gantz tried to link the sovereignty issue to the national budget. In those talks, Netanyahu made it clear that without sovereignty there can be no unity government. It’s either sovereignty or elections, he said, no more middle ground. This week, therefore, is critical, not just for the settlement enterprise but for the political system. If the Americans demand Blue and White’s cooperation as a condition for moving ahead with the annexation, the government will instantly become a pressure cooker.