Gantz Says No to Netanyahu-Led Government

By Yisrael Price

Chairman of the Blue and White party and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz leads a faction meeting at the Knesset, Monday. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

YERUSHALAYIM – Some of the coalition leaders were proclaiming their red lines for the coming political realignment as the Knesset dickered over a date for elections on Monday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said what he is against above all: “I will do everything to prevent the formation of an alternative government in this Knesset under Netanyahu,” Gantz said at a press conference.

He went further, ruling out a solution that would avert elections, saying, “I don’t currently see an alternative government in this Knesset.

“This government didn’t persist, but we proved we could work together,” Gantz added, echoing a claim by outgoing Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that “it was an excellent government that relied, yes, on a complicated coalition. And here in this room, there is a group of people that knew how to set aside ideological disagreements, to rise above, and to work for the State of Israel,” Bennett said.

Bennett has not ruled out joining a Netanyahu-led government. “Netanyahu style 2015 is ok,” but not if he does things that are unacceptable, Bennett said in an interview with Channel 12 earlier this week.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman listed the parties he was ruling out as potential coalition partners.

“Religious Zionism is an anti-Zionist party that advocates a halacha state. Nothing else,” Liberman said, and reiterating his stance that “we will not sit [in a coalition] with Shas or United Torah Judaism in any way.”

“We support the formation of a government composed of all the Zionist parties, from Meretz to Yamina,” he told a faction meeting of his party, omitting mention of the Islamist Ra’am, with which he has sat in the coalition until now.

Earlier Monday, the leader of Religious Zionism, Betzalel Smotrich, said that the opposition is trying to form an alternative government within the current Knesset.

“We agreed in a meeting with heads of the opposition to do everything we can to delay the Knesset dispersal and establish an alternative government,” he said during a faction meeting.

Liberman lamented the projected cost of the elections—some 2.4 billion shekels (approximately $700 million).

“I hope that whoever is responsible for this unnecessary expense will pay for it in the election,” Liberman said, presumably referring to the opposition parties, though dissension within the coalition and an exclusionary attitude among its partners led to its collapse. In addition, it’s the opposition parties that are seeking to avert elections, while coalition leaders are insisting on it.

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