With all signs pointing to the state budget passing as planned, there are almost no ways left for the opposition to topple the government. Polls showing that approval ratings for the coalition are dropping while former Prime Minster Binyamin Netanyahu’s numbers rise are meaningless without the government somehow falling apart.
Attempts to drive a wedge between the coalition members in the hope that someone will rebel and vote against the budget will continue until the very last minute in mid-November, but at the same time, the Likud is scrambling to find other ways to undermine the government.
These actions come from the understanding that the government funds are readily and abundantly available to anyone demanding them to remain a “well-behaved” coalition member and that the safety net provided by the Joint Arab List is too solid to break, so the image of the “fragile coalition” does not necessarily reflect reality.
This is why for Likud, the possibility of turning to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is, in fact, the only option on the table.
Ganz does not bother denying it – his status in the government is emboldened by the coalition members’ fear he may bolt – and the Likud makes no secret of the attempts to approach him.
Just this week Gantz said, “I could be prime minister, and I think I can be prime minister at any political point in time.” Right now, it seems he fears the media will turn on him, but in the event that the government continues losing ground in public, he will be justified in making a move.
Netanyahu, for his part, has no intention of biding his time. He knows that the relationship between him and Ganz is a significant obstacle to realizing this plan and he also knows that Gantz will not make any move before the vote on the budget – after all, the last thing Blue and White’s leader needs is to become the prime minister only to try to pass the budget in a vote that could spell the current Knesset’s demise.
Recently, Netanyahu shared with opposition figures the possibility of reaching a deal with Gantz by which the latter will be named as prime minister through a no-confidence vote in the government and sans a power-sharing deal, meaning without a specified agreement on the date on which Netanyahu and Gantz switch the premiership role. This will see Netanyahu named alternate prime minister until the next elections are called, and it is believed that the opposition will be able to secure the 61-MK majority needed to push this type of move.
There is no doubt that if such an offer is made Gantz would have to at least entertain it, but he would still need a due cause to act on it.