Israelis deserve a leader who stands by their word, no shticks and tricks

Israelis deserve a leadership that puts the people before political survival, one that doesn’t engage in daily shticks and tricks.

Illustrative photo of the Knesset in session in Jerusalem (photo credit: REUTERS)
Illustrative photo of the Knesset in session in Jerusalem
(photo credit: REUTERS)
 It wasn’t that long ago, and it is worth remembering: At the end of March, after reaching a deal with Blue and White, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised publicly that he would adhere to the deal that he would sign just a few weeks later.
“I will leave office on the agreed date,” Netanyahu said in a message to Benny Gantz and the entire nation. “There will be no shticks and tricks. Millions of Israelis are waiting for us.”
No shticks and no tricks. Sounds nice, right? Sadly, ever since this government was formed, Netanyahu and his Likud Party have pulled every trick and shtick out of their hats. There is almost nothing they have not done to try and undermine their unity government agreement with Gantz and Blue and White.
They signed a coalition agreement to pass a two-year budget? So what. It’s already the end of November and there still is no budget for 2020, let alone one for 2021. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Israelis remain out of work and a third lockdown seems to be on the horizon means almost nothing.
Just the other day, in an interview with Galei Yisrael radio, Netanyahu was asked if Gantz would one day sit on the prime ministerial chair as is supposed to happen next November, based – once again – on the coalition agreement that Netanyahu signed in April.
“I don’t know,” Netanyahu replied. “Remember the saying: If they give they get, and if they don’t give they don’t get?”
Quite the answer. What does that mean, that he doesn’t know? Didn’t he sign an agreement and promise no tricks?
What Netanyahu was saying was, that if Gantz gives him what he wants, then, maybe, the prime minister will agree to abide by the agreement he himself signed just seven months ago.
No shticks and no tricks, right?
By now, even Gantz knows there is very little chance he will become prime minister during the tenure of this government. Netanyahu, the defense minister knows, will not willingly give up his seat and allow someone like him – with a party polling at just nine seats – to become prime minister. Netanyahu would much rather seek a new mandate in a new election.
Gantz’s mistake in March was to believe Netanyahu. His mistake – as he now readily admits – was believing that Netanyahu had changed due to the coronavirus crisis that was sweeping the nation at the time. Corona caused Gantz to break his promise not to join a government with Netanyahu. He thought that corona would force Netanyahu to put the country first. He was wrong.
What happens next is still unclear. While Gantz is threatening to bring down the government if a 2021 budget is not passed, there is great skepticism that he will indeed do so. Why, some politicians wonder, would Gantz knowingly commit political suicide when he can remain defense minister? Isn’t that better than nothing?
Time will tell what Gantz is willing to do, but the Israeli public would do itself a favor to remember what it was promised by its prime minister and how he has grossly broken that promise time after time.
Israelis deserve leaders who stand by their word. They deserve a leadership that puts the people before political survival, one that doesn’t engage in daily shticks and tricks.
This government is not functioning. It fails consistently to set clear policies for battling the health and economic crises caused by coronavirus, and it is incapable of acting harmoniously to solve the other problems that plague Israel – from mistrust in law enforcement, to domestic violence, from the growing rift with Diaspora Jewry to the increasing spate of deadly shootings in the Arab sector.
Gantz has to make a decision and it is not an easy one. He knows Netanyahu will not vacate the Prime Minister’s Office and he also knows that a prime minister on trial is damaging Israel’s soul. Nevertheless, he is holding on and hoping that something will change.
But deep down, he knows that it won’t. After all, the shticks and tricks never go away.