Gantz, Liberman go after Lapid, each other as election race intensifies

The criticisms began after Gantz told haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat he was not the first politician from the current coalition who was willing to form a government with the haredi parties.

 Minister of Defense Benny Gantz at the opening ceremony of the Odem program, a national groundbreaking program for the development of technological leadership in young high school students is part of the elite Talpiot program, in the northern town of Katzrin, on September 21, 2022.  (photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)
Minister of Defense Benny Gantz at the opening ceremony of the Odem program, a national groundbreaking program for the development of technological leadership in young high school students is part of the elite Talpiot program, in the northern town of Katzrin, on September 21, 2022.
(photo credit: MICHAEL GILADI/FLASH90)

National Unity chairman Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman publicly and privately criticized each other and Yesh Atid chairman Prime Minister Yair Lapid on Tuesday in an attempt to attract voters as the November 1 election nears.

"Gantz, you are confused. You can have both a ‘Jewish soul,’ as you said, while supporting core studies [for haredim], promoting education and employment in the haredi community, believing in ‘live and let live’ and oppose haredi coercion.”

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman 

The criticisms began after Gantz told haredi news website Kikar HaShabbat he was not the first politician from the current coalition who was willing to form a government with the haredi parties.

“We are the only party to create a political, unifying bridge in the State of Israel,” he said in an interview. “We are the political solution… Shas sat with Meretz in the past. Liberman sat with the haredim. I know Liberman; the man fasts three times a year; his room is full of books. I do not think he is not Jewish in his soul.”

Liberman tweeted in response: “Gantz, you are confused. You can have both a ‘Jewish soul,’ as you said, while supporting core studies [for haredim], promoting education and employment in the haredi community, believing in ‘live and let live’ and oppose haredi coercion.”

Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 11, 2022.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman arrives to a cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on September 11, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

“Your fateful courting of [Shas leader Arye] Deri, [United Torah Judaism leader Yitzchak] Goldknopf and [UTJ MK Moshe] Gafni, and the government you wish to form with them, will not be established, as long as Yisrael Beytenu is large and strong,” Liberman wrote.

A campaign video put out by National Unity on September 22 showed a pie chart of how Gantz would form a coalition and included both Yisrael Beytenu and the haredi parties, despite the latter consistently pledging not to join such a coalition. Gantz has said he intends to bring the haredim on board and indicated that he was willing to make significant concessions to make that happen.

National Unity responded by posting a tweet by No. 5 on its list, Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton.

“Yvette [Liberman] my friend, remind your campaign managers who led the core studies plan along with you, and who the chairman of its party is,” she wrote, referring to a plan that she and Liberman planned along with Yesh Atid MK Moshe Tur-Paz, which gave budget increases to haredi schools that included core studies.

Eisenkot weighs in 

Meanwhile, another National Unity member, former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, attacked Lapid in an exclusive interview with The Jerusalem Post that will be published on Friday, regarding the prime minister’s policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What Lapid is offering, two states for two people, is not relevant now,” he said. “It does not match the reality that [the Palestinian] leadership not only does not know how to accept [a state], but on the contrary, it will lead to a deterioration in the security situation.”

Regarding the Lebanon maritime border agreement, which was placed for review on the Knesset floor last Wednesday, Eisenkot echoed Gantz in saying that the agreement was not “historic,” as Lapid made it out to be, indicating that Lapid was trying to exaggerate the deal’s importance for political gain.

“What Lapid is offering, two states for two people, is not relevant now,” he said. “It does not match the reality that [the Palestinian] leadership not only does not know how to accept [a state], but on the contrary, it will lead to a deterioration in the security situation.”

Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot

As the election nears, Yesh Atid and National Unity are fighting over voters from the political Center who are still deliberating between the two, while Liberman is trying to attract secular voters away from both by stressing that they are dependent on the haredi parties’ backing to form a coalition.