Gantz refuses to rule out law banning Netanyahu from serving as PM

No agenda set for cabinet meeting as coalition crisis hits new high. Blue and White leader accuses Netanyahu of seeking elections for "personal and political considerations."

NETANYAHU AND Gantz – can they put their animosity aside and serve the public? (photo credit: CORINNA KERN AMIR COHEN REUTERS)
NETANYAHU AND Gantz – can they put their animosity aside and serve the public?
Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz of Blue and White refused Saturday night to rule out backing legislation that would stop Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from serving as prime minister.
Gantz’s comments come amid severe tensions within the coalition and the possibility that government ministers will not convene Sunday morning for the weekly cabinet meeting due to the crisis between Netanyahu and the Blue and White leader over the state budget.
As the divisions between the Likud and Blue and White have increased in recent weeks, and the allegations that Netanyahu is seeking new elections heightened, so too have calls from Gantz’s former allies, now in the opposition, to pass legislation which would prevent an MK from forming a government if they are under indictment.
Such legislation was proposed by opposition parties after the March election and before the formation of the government, as a way of preventing Netanyahu from retaining his premiership, but Gantz ultimately chose to form a unity government instead.
Asked about his position on passing such a law now, with Netanyahu insistent on passing just a one-year budget despite his coalition agreement with Gantz stipulating a two-year budget, the latter declined to rule it out.
“We cannot advance it at the moment in the framework of the coalition agreement in which we are in,” he said on Saturday night in an interview on Channel 12’s Meet the Press program. “We will see what we will do if Netanyahu will make this mistake and drag the State of Israel to elections at its most difficult time.”
During the heightened tensions, the weekly cabinet meeting was canceled since no agenda had been posted by press time, a situation indicative of the severe strains between the two leaders.
The coalition agreement between Likud and Blue and White stipulates that both parties must agree to the cabinet agenda, which is likely why no agenda had been agreed upon by late Saturday night.
The Likud Party stated on Saturday night that the cabinet meeting would not be held due to "the refusal by Blue and White to put on the agenda the government economic assistance program of the prime minister and Finance Minister to deal with the NIS 8.5 billion corona crisis, which includes assistance to at-risk populations."
The party added that the assistance program would form about ten thousand new workplaces in the market. NIS 700 million would be transferred to ensure food security for underprivileged families and NIS 600 million for the benefit of extending the adaptation grants for those aged 67 and over that were sent into unpaid leave until June 2021.
"The Likud demands that Blue and White not halt the transfer of funds to Israeli citizens at this time of dealing with the coronavirus crisis," added the party.
Blue and White stated in response that the cabinet meeting was not being held because of "the insistence of the Likud to not uphold the coalition agreement and to not approve the government regulations that ensure its stability."
"This is not the first time that the Likud has not held to its commitments and every other excuse is a complete lie to the Israeli public," added Blue and White, stating that the Finance Minister's plan is "a multi-billion-dollar long-term plan that has not yet been fully presented and has not yet been finalized."
"Trying to raise it from today for tomorrow is nothing more than an irresponsible spin," said the party.
"We expect the Likud to abide by the agreement and approve the government's bylaws that will allow the stability that is so much needed at this time to continue," stressed the party. "Nine million Israeli citizens expect stability and reliability from the government, and Blue and White will not agree to challenge this."

And on Saturday night, opposition leader and Yesh Atid chairman MK Yair Lapid said that if elections were called, his party would bring the bills submitted by Blue and White, while it was still united with Lapid’s party, to a vote, while Meretz leader MK Nitzan Horowitz said he would introduce such a bill to the Knesset on Sunday.
“Netanyahu has very, very strong personal and legal challenges. He has concerns which I do not,” said Gantz. “I assume he has personal and political considerations which is why he wants elections. It’s impossible that someone who cares about the country and sees what is happening here will come to the conclusion that what is right for the country is elections.”
In the shadow of the coalition crisis, two Blue and White ministers denied Saturday night that they were considering deserting their party for Likud, something which might allow Netanyahu to dismantle the unity government and make a narrow right-wing coalition.
Aliyah and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said that she had met with Netanyahu on Thursday but only for ministerial business, and that she would not be part of a narrow right-wing government.
She also backed Gantz’s position on passing a two-year, not one-year, budget.
Diaspora Affairs Minister Omer Yankelevitch denied that she had any personal meeting with Netanyahu, saying that she too had a meeting with him on ministry business, which was attended by other government officials.