פתיחת מושב הכנסת
Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz at the opening of the Knesset earlier this year
Photo: Amit Shabi
Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz at the opening of the Knesset earlier this year, with Tamar Zandberg, Avigdor Liberman and Rafi Peretz standing behind them

Blue and White compromise exposes Netanyahu's bluff

Opinion: Gantz's party has relinquished its demand for the prime minister to step down as last-ditch effort to prevent a third round of elections in a 12-month period, but as that failed it became clear that Netanyahu had no intention of preventing another vote in the first place

Ben-Dror Yemini |
Published: 12.10.19 , 16:22
It's game over for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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  • It was supposed to be clear to all that the Likud demand for Netanyahu to receive parliamentary immunity to avoid prosecution for bribery, fraud and breach of trust was just another of the ruling party's slew of empty promises and hollow offers, which once included the pledge that Netanyahu would step down if indicted.
    פתיחת מושב הכנסת פתיחת מושב הכנסת
    Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz at the opening of the Knesset earlier this year, with Tamar Zandberg, Avigdor Liberman and Rafi Peretz standing behind them
    (Photo: Amit Shabi)
    Someone who seeks immunity surely isn't intending to step down from office, but it wasn't so clear until now.
    Blue and White leader Benny Gantz's statement Sunday saying his party would agree to join a Netanyahu government if the incumbent agreed to give up his immunity was a dramatic one.
    Essentially, Blue and White offered its most far-reaching concession to date after weeks of failed coalition negotiations, saying it was willing to serve in a Netanyahu government despite the charges against him and despite the party's repeated pledge to not serve in a government led by a person under indictment.
    It's not just a dramatic concession. Some Blue and White supporters warned Gantz against compromising, but he still decided to take the risk because someone has to be the responsible adult who pulls Israel out of this election quagmire.
    But this ploy was not going anywhere anyway, because Netanyahu was not planning to step down in the first place. He was only going to honor the first part of a premiership rotation agreement – a government under his leadership – then he planned to slither his way out of the second part.
    The prime minister can go on and on about the Gaza Strip, Iran and the security threats that bedevil Israel, and how he and only he can navigate through this complicated reality. All an exercise to convince us that the immunity would not be for him, but for the sake of the State of Israel. What a load of tosh
    בני גנץבני גנץ
    Blue and White leader Benny Gantz
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu used to be different. He used to be a politician who put his career at risk by cutting budgets for ultra-Orthodox members of his coalition and who put the good of Israel before any political games – but that Netanyahu is long gone.
    When tasked to choose between the interests of the state and his own preservation – Netanyahu has in recent years repeatedly placed his own interests first and it is only getting worse.
    Netanyahu knows that unilateral annexation of the Jordan Valley would destabilize already shaky relations with Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and various other countries.
    There is no need to annex the Jordan Valley, as no one disputes Israel's rule over it. Even Blue and White has a clear majority in favor of annexing the area, but Netanyahu claimed this was his own idea, believing it to be of some advantage.
    Why would someone striving to form a unity government make such a significant diplomatic move with a caretaker government that doesn't have a majority among the people or in the Knesset?
    Even the Americans have distanced themselves from Netanyahu's trick.
    The prime minister claimed that he discussed the issue and almost reached an agreement on the matter at his meeting in Portugal with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week, but a Pompeo spokesperson confirmed that no such thing happened. Just yet another hoax following another.
    (Anything written in this article could turn out to be false if Netanyahu could please clarify whether he is going to follow through with the rotation deal with Gantz, without parliamentary immunity from prosecution.)
    בנימין נתניהו מסיבת עיתונאיםבנימין נתניהו מסיבת עיתונאים
    Benjamin Netanyahu unveiling his plan to annex the Jordan Valley
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu has still got time to do something for the country and prevent a third round of elections. He knows that the results will most likely be similar to those of the September vote, so why is he dragging us on another idle trip to the polling stations that won't bring about any change?
    And where are the other Likud officials? Why do they allow this charade to go on? Many of them already admit, even if only in private, that Netanyahu is doing all of this for his own interests – certainly not for the sake of the country and not even for the sake of his party.
    Why do they choose to keep silent? Netanyahu's time is obviously up. His idle tricks are only causing them damage.
    He managed to fool some parts of the public for some of the time, but no more.
    It's important to add that Gantz may have already known that Netanyahu's response to his offer would be a negative one, making this all just a blame game. It seems like the former army chief has learned a thing or two about politics.
    But this is all of lesser importance now that Gantz offered Netanyahu the chance to serve as prime minister first in a unity government.
    This was exactly what the Likud chairman wished for and this is exactly what he got, but it's not enough.
    Gantz's offer wasn't enough to prevent another general election, but it has at least exposed Netanyahu's hoax, which is also something.
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