A new campaign video put out by Benny Gantz’s National Unity Party shows the defense minister forming a government with the haredi parties, marking the first time the campaign has officially acknowledged this as its plan.
The video portrays Gantz as the only one with the ability to break the political deadlock. It displays a pie chart with National Unity, Labor, Yisrael Beytenu, Meretz, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), Shas and Yesh Atid, which add up to 71 mandates, based on a Channel 12 poll from September 16.
The video includes a clip of UTJ MK Uri Maklev telling Army Radio that Gantz is a possibility if opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu cannot form a government.
It concludes with a frame saying, “We must stop the November nightmare,” while showing a picture of Netanyahu, and ends with: “It’s either Gantz now or Bibi is coming back.”
Maklev backed away from the quotes in the video.
"Gantz is using tendentious and misleading quotes in order to sell to the public the pipe-dream that we will sit with the Left."Uri Maklev
“Gantz is using tendentious and misleading quotes in order to sell to the public the pipe dream that we will sit with the Left,” Army Radio quoted him as saying. “We are acting vigorously so that Netanyahu will be the next prime minister. Gantz is welcome to join based on right-wing guidelines.”
Gantz's courtship after the haredi parties
The possibility of Gantz forming a government with the haredi parties emerged yesterday when the defense minister prayed at the synagogue of Rabbi Reuven Elbaz, one of the senior rabbis affiliated with Shas. Gantz was also shown receiving a blessing from the rabbi, who in turn received a written blessing from Gantz, thanking him for his “years-long activity on behalf of the people of Israel.”
Maariv Online reported that Netanyahu’s office was taken aback by Gantz being honored at what is traditionally a right-wing stronghold.
Gantz was also the first party leader, together with Shas head Arye Deri, to visit the family mourning another Shas rabbi, Hacham Shalom Cohen, who died on August 22.
These gestures are purposely intended to woo the haredim to join a future government. The haredi parties, including UTJ and not just Shas, are refraining from attacking Gantz.
At UTJ’s campaign launch on Wednesday, party leader MK Moshe Gafni lashed out at Labor leader Merav Michaeli, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid, and Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman. Gantz was noticeably absent.
The defense minister also remained mum last week when Netanyahu promised to raise funding for the haredi school system without demanding that they teach a core curriculum. Nearly every other party leader from the Center-Left attacked Netanyahu for those comments.
The haredi parties are walking a fine line of committing to Netanyahu without bashing Gantz, in order to be able to gain as much as possible following the election, and Gantz is now courting them publicly.