Benny Gantz says fourth elections are all but certain

Moshe Ya'alon announces Telem Party splitting from alliance with Yesh Atid

Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset plenum, Oct. 15, 2020 (photo credit: GIDEON SHARON/KNESSET SPOKESPERSON)
Defense Minister Benny Gantz at the Knesset plenum, Oct. 15, 2020
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White Party, said on Saturday that the rift between him and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is almost certain to lead to another round of elections and that the Knesset will soon be dissolved.
Speaking on Channel 13, Gantz accused Netanyahu of putting his own interests before those of the country, of excluding Blue and White from governmental processes and of acting as if he was heading a Likud-led coalition rather than a unity government.
“Netanyahu has wasted half a year of public trust. The reason we’re heading to elections is because he chose to take us there – when he put his own issues before the interests of the country,” said Gantz.
“The country doesn’t need elections, but Netanyahu has not advanced anything,” he continued, accusing the prime minister of engaging in “manipulation and lies.”
Gantz ruled out passing a budget for 2020 alone, as Netanyahu is demanding, instead of passing the 2021 budget at the same time, as was agreed in the coalition deal between Likud and Blue and White.
“Does it sound reasonable to pass a budget for one week?” he asked, in reference to the fact that there is less than a month left of 2020, and the economic demands of 2021 are already pressing.
If a 2021 budget were passed, Netanyahu would no longer be able to avoid the prime ministerial rotation agreement, which is supposed to allow Gantz to take over as premier in November.
In response to Gantz, who made similar comments in a separate interview on Channel 12, the Likud issued a statement saying “Gantz is in a panic because of his position in the polls, and therefore, is giving desperate interviews.”
Also on Saturday, Moshe Ya’alon, head of the Telem Party, said he would be taking his faction out of its alliance with Yesh Atid and intends to run as a separate faction.
Ya’alon added that if former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot decides to enter the political arena, he will join Telem as his No. 2, although Eisenkot has not confirmed this.
Speaking to Channel 12 News on Friday, Ya’alon said that the separation will be formalized after elections are confirmed.
“We need a force that speaks to the electorate and doesn’t think this is an issue of Right or Left, but rather, a matter of ‘honest’ and ‘corrupt’ – and this is what I am aiming for ahead of the elections,” he said.
He said that in order to break the paradigm of right-wing and left-wing political blocs, “it appears that Lapid and I need to run separately.”
Ya’alon praised Lapid, however, saying he would make “an excellent prime minister” but that a different political alignment was needed if the anti-Netanyahu bloc is to garner at least 61 Knesset seats and topple the prime minister.
The former defense minister also said that Eisenkot understands “the lesson of Benny Gantz,” adding that, “if he enters [politics], it is clear that he will be with me and my party and I will lead.
“You need to acquire a certain political experience, ministerially, that I have and he does not,” Ya’alon said. “He is an excellent man, but yes – this is a different field from the military one.”