Democratic Union blasts Gantz over willingness to form govt with Netanyahu

At party’s campaign launch, the left-wing alliance promises to fight for ‘democracy, peace, freedom’ and replace right-wing govt.

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August 12, 2019 18:44
3 minute read.
Leaders of the Democratic Union: Ehud Barak, Stav Shaffir and Nitzan Horowitz

Leaders of the Democratic Union: Ehud Barak, Stav Shaffir and Nitzan Horowitz. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)

The Democratic Union launched its election campaign on Monday by denouncing Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for his apparent willingness to form a national unity government with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud.

Speaking to the press in Tel Aviv, the three leaders of the Democratic Union – MK Nitzan Horowitz, MK Stav Shaffir and former prime minister Ehud Barak – also took Blue and White to task for what they described as its right-wing policies, arguing that the party would not replace, but instead participate in, a right-wing government.

The leaders were referencing comments made by Gantz on Sunday, saying that he would entertain the idea of forming a government with Netanyahu and the Likud on a rotation basis for the job of prime minister, if he was prime minister for the first period.

Gantz later insisted on Twitter that Blue and White would form the next government “without Netanyahu.”

Democratic Union co-chair MK Nitzan Horowitz said that Blue and White’s talk of a unity government with Likud “sounded nice” but was in fact “fraud,” since such a government would continue the policies of the current one.

“Blue and White are fantasizing about a unity government with the Likud,” Horowitz charged. “But this would be a right-wing government, it wouldn’t bring change, it wouldn’t bring peace, it wouldn’t reduce property prices or the cost of living.”

He also claimed that a Blue and White government with Likud would be “the final nail in the coffin of a Jewish and democratic state,” in reference to the party’s lack of commitment to a two-state solution to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians.

“It will be the same people and the same disrespect for the rule of law,” he continued. “Blue and White will just be a crutch for Netanyahu and help him escape justice.”

Horowitz said that the Democratic Union would instead fight for left-wing policies and ideals, including civil marriage, public transport on Shabbat and “fight religious coercion so that LGBTs, secular Israelis, non-Orthodox and non-Jews can live in freedom.”

At the press conference, Democratic Union released a new campaign ad that also targeted Blue and White, saying that a government between that party and Likud would “stick” the country with left-wing bêtes noires Culture Minister Miri Regev, Netanyahu loyalist MK David Bitan and Tourism Minister MK Yariv Levin, who aspires to possess the Justice Ministry portfolio and is in favor of legislation allowing the Knesset to override High Court of Justice decisions, anathema to the left-wing.

MK Stav Shaffir, another of the Democratic Union’s co-chairs, continued in a similar vein, saying that country needed a government to “stop the madness and stop the state of Jewish law of [senior United Right MK Bezalel] Smotrich,” in reference to the latter’s twice-repeated desire for Israel to eventually be governed by Torah law.

“We will establish fixed borders for this country, stop payments to Hamas, bring a real peace agreement and not just pay protection money to Gaza,” Shaffir continued.

Ehud Barak, the third of the Democratic Union’s co-leaders, said that he was “concerned” by Blue and White’s willingness to form a government with the Likud and Gantz’s comments about a rotation agreement with Netanyahu.

“The implication of this is the concession from the outset, without a fight, on the central goal of these fateful elections, the rescue of democracy in Israel through a government of change,” said Barak.

Blue and White said in response to the Democratic Union’s onslaught that “We don’t need political advice from Barak, who can teach a course in crawling into Netanyahu’s government.”

Barak split the Labor Party in 2011 and took five Labor MKs into his new Independence Party, which stayed with Netanyahu’s government of the time despite the withdrawal of the rest of the Labor Party, with Barak keeping his job as defense minister.


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