Netanyahu, Gantz need action to back up their words – analysis

Mouthing words, but then acting in a different matter altogether, does not gain the public’s confidence.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during the preliminary vote to disperse the Knesset on December 2, 2020. (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/YEDIOT AHARONOT/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seen during the preliminary vote to disperse the Knesset on December 2, 2020.
Much has been written since the coronavirus swept upon our shores in late February about how the public’s lack of trust and confidence in the government is making efforts to fight the virus more difficult.
If the public trusted that the government’s decisions were relevant and not politically motivated, there would be a greater likelihood that the public would follow. Had the public seen that its leaders were following its own regulations, there would be a greater likelihood that the public, too, would abide by them. But neither of those scenarios emerged.
The public – seeing that rules and regulations applied to one sector but not another, and that directives in one government meeting could be overturned in another if the right amount of pressure by the right pressure group was applied – lost faith that pertinent decisions were being made void of outside considerations.
And the well publicized and much discussed cases of the country’s leaders not abiding by the rules – from President Reuven Rivlin, through Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel, Yesh Atid-Telem MK Mickey Levy and others – only increased a lack of faith in the government. If you institute regulations, then live by them.
If the country is to effectively fight the coronavirus, if people are to follow the regulations enacted to fight the pandemic, trust and faith in the government need to be built up.
But the statements both Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz gave over the last two days, as the country apparently hurtles toward its fourth election within two years, will do nothing to enhance that public trust. On the contrary.
Let’s start with Netanyahu.
In a Facebook video posted Tuesday evening just before Gantz went on television to say that the Blue and White Party he heads would vote in the Knesset Wednesday for the parliament to disperse itself, the first step leading toward new elections, he entreated Gantz not to bring down the government and called on him to “make a U-turn from politics for the sake of the citizens of Israel.
“This is not the time for elections,” Netanyahu said, “this is the time for unity. This is the time to keep bringing vaccines, this is the time to keep up our determined war against the corona disease, this is the time to continue helping businesses, the self-employed, citizens. This is the time to continue to expand the peace circle. It is the time to present a common front against diplomatic and security challenges that are not simple.”
Pretty words, but pretty words belied by the reality Netanyahu has created in the six months since the emergency corona government was established. He had half a year to work in common purpose with Gantz and Blue and White, but he didn’t do so.
Signing historic accords with Persian Gulf countries without bringing into consultation Gantz or Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is not working together. Flying secretly to Saudi Arabia to meet with the crown prince without informing the man who, according to a coalition agreement, is supposed to be prime minister in 11 months is not working in concert. Holding press conference after press conference dealing with the coronavirus without a Blue and White minister on hand, apparently so no credit needs to be shared, is not working together for the citizens of Israel.
These actions controvert unity, they do not foster it. In fact, they foster the opposite.
And the country sees it all. The country sees its prime minister saying one thing – unity – but acting in another matter altogether. That erodes public trust, it does not build it. Mouthing words, but then acting in a different matter altogether, do not gain the public’s confidence. And again, public trust and confidence in the government at this particularly fraught moment are crucial.
Gantz, for his part, leveled a stinging indictment against Netanyahu in his speech Tuesday night. He called him a liar, a serial breaker of promises, a man who used the fight against coronavirus for self-glorification, and someone whose measuring stick for evaluating all decisions is whether it will help him evade trial.
Those are nasty words, biting words.
But then, despite those words, Gantz left the door ajar for the possibility of not seeing the process of bringing down the government all the way through. If Netanyahu would immediately bring a budget to the Knesset for passage, he made clear, Blue and White would remain in the coalition.
Huh? On the one hand you say that Netanyahu is a liar who is putting his own interests ahead of the interests of the state, yet on the other hand you are willing to continue to sit in the government if he presents a budget? Is this not a complete disconnect between words and action?
If the words are true, then the action – leaving the government unconditionally – should logically follow. Because who knowingly sits in a government led by a self-aggrandizing serial liar?
And if the action does not follow the words, then one questions the sincerity of those words. And that, too, feeds a general lack of trust.
The country needs to believe its leaders. It needs to believe that when one says that he wants unity, he means it. And it needs to believe that when one leader calls another a liar and shameless self-aggrandizer, he is not going to leave the door open to continue sitting in that person’s government.
Otherwise, words have no meaning. And if the public’s faith is to be restored in the government – something crucial during this pandemic – then it needs to believe there is truth in the words the country’s leaders pronounce.