New Knesset showdown between Likud, Blue and White set for Wednesday

Litzman resignation becomes official, Deri breaks vow to Gantz

PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz pass each other in the Knesset last year. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
PRIME MINISTER Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz pass each other in the Knesset last year.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Likud and Blue and White are set to renew their fight over protecting the rule of law on Wednesday, when Yamina MK Bezalel Smotrich proposes a commission of inquiry to probe alleged conflicts of interests among the police, prosecution and judges.
A similar proposal by Smotrich that was only about judges sparked a huge rift between Likud and Blue and White two months ago that almost escalated into an early election. After reports of conflicts of interest among police investigators involved in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s cases, Smotrich submitted a new request that would also apply to them.
Blue and White vigorously opposes the proposal. Likud supports it, but asked Smotrich to wait until Netanyahu returns from abroad, so they could file their own proposal. Smotrich refused to delay his proposal, because the Knesset will hold off on key votes during the upcoming lockdown and holidays.
“It is the role of the Knesset to oversee the executive and judicial branches, and a parliamentary probe on this issue is necessary,” Smotrich said. “It must be checked if there are more conflicts of interest that have not yet been revealed to the public and further harm the public’s trust in the legal and law enforcement systems.”
Netanyahu’s coalition officially lost its first minister since his government was formed at noon on Tuesday, when Housing and Construction Minister Ya’acov Litzman’s resignation took effect.
Litzman (United Torah Judaism) announced that he is resigning from the government, writing in his resignation letter that he believed Netanyahu intended from the start to have a full lockdown during the holidays out of a lack of appreciation for religious observance in comparison to other issues that are not being harmed in the fight against coronavirus.
Via the Norwegian Law, Litzman quit the Knesset and was replaced by the next candidate on the UTJ list, Eliyahu Baruchi, who automatically left the Knesset when Litzman’s resignation letter became official. Litzman and his colleagues in UTJ decided that within two weeks, they will reach an agreement about how to handle the vacancy in the cabinet.
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz also suffered a blow on Monday, when Shas leader Aryeh Deri denied in an interview that he had given his guarantee to Gantz that he would ensure there would be a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office in November 2021. When Gantz joined the government, Deri committed publicly that he would insist that the rotation take place.
“Benny Gantz did not sign any agreement with me,” Deri told the Kikar Shabbat website. “I said we would do all we can for this government to continue. But there is nothing signed, and no one thinks otherwise, with all due respect.”
Gantz responded in interviews with three television networks that there is indeed such an agreement and he will insist that it be honored.