Thank you Benny Gantz, but goodbye - opinion

Gantz’s intention to remain in politics is as misguided as his betrayal of his supporters.

BLUE AND WHITE leader Benny Gantz –  not much of a politician. (photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90)
BLUE AND WHITE leader Benny Gantz – not much of a politician.
(photo credit: ALEX KOLOMOISKY/FLASH90)
Purely by chance, I was watching the final episode of The Crown over the weekend, which started with Sir Geoffrey Howe’s famous resignation speech in the House of Commons. Within just a few weeks, and due to the effect this speech had on the ruling Conservative Party, Margaret Thatcher was forced to stand down as British prime minister after more than 11 continuous years in power.
While watching this scene, it was impossible not to draw parallels with Ze’ev Elkin’s resignation speech last week. Just as Howe had been a close ally of Thatcher for two decades, so, too, had Elkin been a trusted confidant of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And just as the moderate Howe surprised all around him by the vehemence of his attack on his onetime boss, so, too, did Elkin.
Precisely because of his reputation as a gray, uncharismatic politician, Elkin’s dramatic speech made his harsh accusations all the more wounding for the prime minister. When somebody as close to Netanyahu’s inner circle, as was Elkin, claims that the prime minister is taking the country to its fourth election in two years, in the midst of a pandemic, for personal reasons, while trying to place the blame on others, even the most die-hard Netanyahu supporter must start to pay attention.
And for those who needed extra clarity, Elkin went on to outline Netanyahu’s personal considerations that are overriding the wider national interest: the prime minister’s determination to stop his corruption trial, either through introducing legislation to provide him with immunity from prosecution or via influencing the appointment of a state attorney and attorney-general.
For good measure, the outgoing minister also accused Netanyahu of destroying the Likud and turning it into a personality cult.
Unlike British politics, where general elections are called and take place in weeks and party leaders unceremoniously dumped if they fail to deliver, Israel’s political machinery takes longer to move into gear. Elkin’s speech, unlike Howe’s, will not cause Netanyahu’s immediate defenestration, but it promises to make it that much more difficult for the prime minister to remain in his Balfour Street residence after the elections in March.
With Elkin joining Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope Party, the traditional Likud voter, tired of Netanyahu’s shameless shenanigans, finally has a real alternative. New Hope offers such voters an uncompromising right-wing agenda – more right-wing than Netanyahu has ever been – without the stench of corruption and cronyism that surrounds today’s Likud.
And, most importantly, both Sa’ar and Elkin can be trusted to keep their word to not sit under Netanyahu in any future coalition government.
UNLIKE BENNY Gantz. The Blue and White leader will go down in history as the person who betrayed his supporters by breaking his pledge not to join a coalition led by a prime minister who was indicted of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
It took only seven months for this unholy alliance to fall apart, and Gantz should draw the necessary conclusions and retire from a political life to which he was so obviously unsuited.
The former IDF chief of staff’s intention to stay on in politics is as misguided as his belief that anybody, outside perhaps his immediate family, will be tempted to vote for him in March. Given Gantz’s failure last time around to keep to his main commitment to the electorate not to serve under Netanyahu, why should people give him their support in three months’ time?
Yet Gantz does deserve our thanks on two levels.
Firstly, he proved without a shadow of doubt that Netanyahu cannot be trusted. No serious politician can ever again sign a coalition agreement with Netanyahu and believe the prime minister will uphold it if it involves Netanyahu making serious personal concessions at some point in the future. This will come back to haunt the premier in March, when, even if the Likud is the party with the largest number of seats, he will find that nobody is prepared to deal with him.
And secondly, Gantz did prevent Netanyahu from introducing legislation in this past Knesset to provide him with immunity from prosecution. In conjunction with Blue and White’s Avi Nissenkorn as justice minister, Gantz also managed to protect the country’s legal system against the attacks emanating from the Balfour Street residence.
It’s not much of a political legacy, but then Gantz isn’t much of a politician. Unlike Elkin, whose speech is likely to prove the tipping point from which it’s only downhill for Netanyahu. Like Thatcher, who thought she was untouchable given her achievements, there comes a time in every politician’s career when the end draws near, and this date is coming closer for Netanyahu.
The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.