Likud paints Gantz as crazy

Rivlin hints largest party is key to win

Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Benny Gantz (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST+EMIL SALMAN/POLL+ANDREAS GEBERT/REUTERS)
Yair Lapid, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Benny Gantz

The Likud and Blue and White parties continued their mutual recriminations in their campaign ads on Tuesday, with Likud using Blue and White leader Benny Gantz’s poor performance in recent interviews against him.

Gantz gave two interviews to nightly news broadcasts from Washington on Monday in which he repeatedly refused to answer questions, stuttered and made a mistake of saying he is not paranoid.

Likud took the ads and doctored them to make Gantz’s blue eyes look like they are popping out of his head while playing the music from the shower murder scene in the 1960 movie Psycho under the slogan “Gantz is unstable.”

Co-leader Yair Lapid told Radio 103 on Tuesday that the interviews “were indeed a mistake” and that he “has had better interviews.” Lapid said Gantz was making a point of not answering the questions because he did not want to criticize Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during an apparent security crisis.

“We decided to be better than Netanyahu and maintain higher standards than him, which is not very hard in the current situation,” Lapid said.

In response to Likud’s ad, Blue and White released a video under the headline “what Netanyahu really thinks of Gantz.” The ad features Netanyahu’s speech paying tribute to Gantz when he completed his term as IDF chief of staff.

Blue and White received a boost on Tuesday from President Reuven Rivlin in a civics lesson he gave in Beit Shemesh. Rivlin hinted that under certain circumstances, he could strongly consider the largest party to form a coalition if neither of the blocs has 61 MKs.

“The president must consider what the nation wanted in the election and expressed in the results from the ballot boxes,” Rivlin said. “If there are more than 61 MKs who come and recommend one man, then the people decided that he must be given the chance to form the government.”

Rivlin then said the true question is what a president does when no candidate receives recommendations from factions totaling more than half the new Knesset.

“What are the considerations that must guide him?” he asked. “Perhaps the largest faction? The considerations can be how many MKs recommended whom and how many recommended someone else and whether the man who received the most recommendations has more of a chance to persuade the others to construct a coalition with him.”

Rivlin’s statement could result in the two largest parties making more of an effort to rob their satellite parties in their political bloc in an effort to obtain the most votes.

Netanyahu, who earlier pushed for right-wing parties to unite so they would not waste votes, indicated in an interview with Channel 20 broadcast on Sunday that he now has a more important priority.

“There is a danger that the largest party will be asked to form a government and not the party that receives the most recommendations,” he said. “If Likud will not be larger, there is a true danger.”