When politics and diplomacy intersect- analysis

Gantz criticized Netanyahu, saying it would be better had he visited various cities around Israel rather than spend his time abroad.

Benny Gantz talks at influencer conference in Tel Aviv (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)
Benny Gantz talks at influencer conference in Tel Aviv
(photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)
LONDON – Blue and White Knesset members came to the Knesset on Wednesday morning and speculated on what country Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would visit ahead of the September 17 election to remind voters of his diplomatic credentials.
They spoke about sending their MKs around the world to tell world leaders not to invite Netanyahu because he was on his way out.
Hours later, Netanyahu announced that he would fly to London the following day.
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz used the occasion to issue his strongest attack on Netanyahu in months.
“What we are seeing these days are Benjamin Netanyahu’s travels around the world, from place to place, simply throwing dust in the eyes of the public,” he told Channel 12’s conference in Tel Aviv. “But you understand, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin makes all of his moves based on the interests of Putin and of Russia. [US President Donald] Trump does what he does for Trump and for the United States alone, and not because of Netanyahu. Instead of traveling around the world, Netanyahu needs to visit Hadera and continue onward to Golani Junction and Kiryat Shmona, which are apparently boring him.”
That attack set off Netanyahu, who has mostly ignored Gantz for two elections in a row. He explained how the timing of the trip had to do with the schedule of new US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, whom he met for the first time, and not with the coming election.
“I heard someone say we are here for political reasons,” he said. “This is a lie, far from the truth. I don’t sell out our security. There are threats rising around us, and we will deal with them.”
So who is right? They both are.
There are rare times in the life of a politician when his political and professional interests intersect. This was true for Netanyahu, who avoided being in the country on the day when he knew there would be a very anti-Netanyahu conference of Channel 12, which the prime minister has called to boycott.
It was also true for his British counterpart, Boris Johnson.
Netanyahu met with Johnson a day after he failed at his goal of initiating a snap election to get a new parliament ahead of big steps on Brexit. People kept asking why Johnson cleared time for Netanyahu on such a day.
The very fact that such a question was being asked proved it was smart of Johnson to hold the meeting.
There is no smarter move after a day of bad news in politics than to fully engage professionally. For Johnson, meeting with Netanyahu and US Vice President Mike Pence provided a welcome rest from internal politics.
But on Friday, Netanyahu will go back to the election in Israel, and Johnson will go back to his internal problems.
The worst thing about a vacation, whether in or out of the country, is it never lasts forever.