Gafni attempting to form alternative gov’t

Gantz: Netanyahu has exhausted his political credit, there’s nothing to talk about

 MK MOSHE GAFNI compared Hendel to a ‘paritz.’ (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
MK MOSHE GAFNI compared Hendel to a ‘paritz.’
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

MK Moshe Gafni, leader of the United Torah Judaism Party, is spearheading an effort to form an alternate government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu before the Knesset disperses next week.

Gafni held continuous meetings on Tuesday for that purpose, a source close to the UTJ head said.

An alternative government could potentially include the Likud, Blue and White, New Hope and Yamina, fellow UTJ MK Uri Makleb said on Army Radio on Tuesday morning.

The party would not oppose Blue and White head and Defense Minister Benny Gantz becoming prime minister in such a scenario, he said. However, Gafni later downplayed Makleb’s comments and said that UTJ supports Netanyahu as the leader of the bloc.

The chances of the opposition succeeding are very low as no New Hope or Blue and White members have publicly indicated that they would be willing to join such a government, a coalition source claimed.

 MK's Moshe Gafni and Yinon Azulai attend Finance committee meeting, in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on December 7, 2021.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) MK's Moshe Gafni and Yinon Azulai attend Finance committee meeting, in the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on December 7, 2021. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Blue and White denied that it was involved in any negotiations.

“Unfortunately, Netanyahu exhausted his political credit, so there is nothing to talk about,” Gantz said.

“In a proper country, it is not acceptable that a person who is in the midst of a criminal trial for offenses that involve moral turpitude can form a government.”

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) 

Netanyahu said on Monday night that he had tried to initiate such a move but that it was blocked by coalition MKs, whom he accused of hypocrisy as they agreed to sit with Ra’am (United Arab List) and thus chose an Arab party over a Zionist one.

The opposition leader added that Ra’am would not be part of a Likud-led coalition.

A day after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Alternate Prime Minister Yair Lapid announced their decision to dissolve the Knesset, coalition and opposition factions maneuvered to take advantage of the situation.

The heads of the Likud, Shas, UTJ and Religious Zionist parties sent a letter to Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara on Tuesday demanding that based on prior A-G directives, since the government is soon to become a transitional government, it should not be allowed to make high-level appointments. The letter came as Gantz announced on June 13 that he was beginning the process of choosing the next IDF chief of staff.

Anti-Bibi bill

In another maneuver, the coalition announced that Meretz MK Gaby Lasky’s “anti-Bibi bill” would be on the ministerial committee on legislation’s agenda on Sunday. The bill would prevent a government in any future Knesset from being formed by an MK under indictment, including Netanyahu.

However, the bill does not apply to the current Knesset, and if it passes, Netanyahu will still be able to head a government.

MK Gilad Kariv (Labor) said on Tuesday that he would enact a parliamentary process that would speed up the passing of the bill.

“In a proper country, it is not acceptable that a person who is in the midst of a criminal trial for offenses that involve moral turpitude can form a government,” Kariv told Maariv.

“The idea that a person can conduct a criminal trial and at the same time govern the State of Israel is a false and dangerous thought. Legislation on this issue has a majority in the Knesset, and it should be promoted as soon as possible,” Kariv said.

The bill was first brought forward in July 2021 but did not make it to the ministerial committee due to opposition by Yamina.

It was then supposed to have been brought to the committee on June 12, but that also was pushed off so as not to add tension to the already unstable coalition.

Election campaigns began to move forward on Tuesday, as Yesh Atid started hiring campaign staff and Blue and White held a party event in Tel Aviv.

Speculation about the makeup of faction lists abounded on social media, including the option that Bennett and Lapid would not run together. A source close to Yamina flatly denied the claim.

Other potential mergers exist, including Yamina with New Hope, and Meretz with Labor. However, the coalition’s factions will not officially begin to discuss their lists for the next election until the Knesset has officially disbanded, a coalition source said.