Blue and White civil war set for Knesset on Sunday

Gantz, Ya'alon face rebellions in parties

Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Knesset’s Arrangements Committee will host a battle between the parties that made up Blue and White in what is expected to be a stormy meeting on Sunday.
MK Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and MK Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem hope to keep the Blue and White name, because they control a majority of the 33 MKs that the united party won in the March 2 election. But two MKs from Telem want to jump ship to Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party.
Gantz faced his first rebellion from among the MKs inside Israel Resilience on Friday, when Gadeer Mreeh, the first Druse woman in the Knesset, announced she would not join a coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mocking a statement Gantz had made about the test of leadership, she wrote: “A leader does not betray his principles and voters. I came to politics to replace the racist, divisive government that passed the Nation-State Law and not to join it!”
She vowed that she “will not sit for a day under the indicted [prime minister.]” Gantz visited her home in an effort to persuade her to join the coalition, agreeing to have the coalition agreement support the repeal of the Kaminitz law that was seen as discriminating against minorities.
Other dovish MKs in Blue and White wrote on social media on Friday that they would enter the coalition, because of the coronavirus. MK Alon Schuster, who is considered the most left-wing MK in the Israel Resilience party, wrote a long post on social media justifying entering the coalition, because of the coronavirus and the need to have an impact inside the government.
More fights among MKs who ran in Blue and White are expected this week, when votes on pro- and anti-Netanyahu bills are raised in the Knesset.
Gantz revealed on Friday that his former colleagues in Blue and White, Lapid and Ya’alon, had decided to prefer a fourth election over joining a Netanyahu-led government.
In a speech to a faction meeting held on zoom that was posted to his Facebook page, Gantz said he was more satisfied than ever with his decision to form a unity government, because he did what was necessary for the nation as it fights the coronavirus.
“In days like these, leaders must choose what is right and leave their fighting and their personal accounts aside,” Gantz said. “We got to a point where some of my colleagues preferred to go to elections instead of compromising. [MK] Gabi [Ashkenazi] and I decided we will not drag Israel to elections at a time of emergency that will last a long time and have long-term ramifications.”
Gantz said his door would remain open in case Lapid, Ya’alon and the rest of Yesh Atid and Telem wanted to return. But he added criticism of their decision.
“Those who are pushing families that lost their livelihood and fear their fate and their health to go out and vote again should admit it loud and clear,” Gantz said.
Lapid criticized Gantz, Ashkenazi and Resilience Party MKs on his Facebook page, writing that he still had no idea why they decided to join a Netanyahu-led government.
“It is certainly not because of the coronavirus,” Lapid wrote. “None of them even bothered asking for the Health portfolio.”
In an interview on Channel 12 on Saturday night, Lapid said crises were no excuse for conceding on values. He compared Gantz to a man who “ran a marathon, led and a moment before the finish line sat and broke down crying.  
Activists from Lapid’s Yesh Atid party protested outside Gantz’s home in Rosh Ha’ayin on Friday. They waved black Blue and White flags and played a song on a loudspeaker called “Benny, Benny, the bad boy.”
Black Flag movement protesters demonstrated outside the homes of Gantz and other Resilience MKs on Saturday. Channel 13 reported the movement is funded in part by former prime minister Ehud Barak.
A poll broadcast on Channel 12’s Meet the Press program found that 56% of Blue and White voters support joining the government, but just 20% believe Netanyahu will agree to leave the Prime Minister’s Office for Gantz in a rotation.
Among the public, 61% support Gantz’s decision to enter the government and 31% oppose it.