Yesh Atid-Telem leader Yair Lapid intensified his attack on former Blue and White partner Benny Gantz on Monday, when he told a Knesset committee he would be willing to prevent him from becoming prime minister.
Lapid spoke at a stormy session of the special Knesset committee formed to legislate the bills necessary for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gantz to form a government together. According to the proposed bills, 75 MKs would be needed to change the law and cancel the rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz.
“Any time Bibi wants to stop the rotation [in the Prime Minister’s Office], all he has to do is come to me and say that he wants to return the laws to how they were before, and I will say yes,” Lapid said. “We respect our democracy, and these horrible and shameful bills must be canceled.”
The coalition agreement reached by Netanyahu and Gantz “has more holes than Bibi’s favorite golf course in Caesarea,” he told the committee.
Blue and White MKs should not expect the rotation that is set for November 2021 to happen, Lapid said.
“In what world could anyone seriously believe that Bibi will tell Sara Netanyahu to clear the shelves of the Prime Minister’s Residence to make room for Gantz’s wife, Revital?” he said.
In response, Blue and White said: “If the day comes when Lapid conspires with Bibi to initiate an election instead of letting Gantz become prime minister, his party will not cross the electoral threshold.”
The bill that would facilitate a rotation as prime minister passed in the committee in a 10-6 vote. It will go to the Knesset plenum for a vote on its first reading on Thursday.
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman tweeted: “I was surprised to hear Lapid’s statement to save Netanyahu at the expense of Gantz. I hope things have been said jokingly or taken out of context.”
הופתעתי לשמוע את הצהרתו של לפיד להצלת נתניהו על חשבון גנץ. אני מקווה שהדברים נאמרו בבדיחות הדעת או הוצאו מהקשרם.— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) April 27, 2020
In response to Liberman, Lapid said: “I have no intention of saving Bibi. The only one who saved him is Benny Gantz. If, in another year, after the coronavirus [crisis], we have the possibility of bringing down the government, clearly we will bring it down.”
MKs Tamar Zandberg and Pnina Tamano-Shata were forcibly removed from the special committee by Knesset ushers who were wearing protective masks. They were removed as intense arguments devolved into shouting matches between Blue and White and the parties of the left-wing bloc.
In an online press conference, Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked said Yamina would not vote for the controversial bills currently being legislated to facilitate forming the government, because it remains unclear whether here party will be in the coalition and because serious legislation that changes the electoral system should not be passed within a week.
She expressed frustration with Netanyahu’s foot-dragging in talks with her party.
“We are not leaving Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, but he might break off from us,” Shaked said. “If he decides that, it will be his decision, and we will be a fighting opposition that will be an alternative on the Right. We don’t want to be a fifth wheel in the government.”Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.