יובל דיסקין
Yuval Diskin
Photo: Courtesy
Benny Gantz chose to ally himself with a thrice-indicted Benjamin Netanyahu

The future of Blue & White is not necessarily black

Opinion: While party the and its leader effectively betrayed all those who supported them by allying with Netanyahu, they could still save face attempting to unite the blocs against the man who dragged us into three elections out of fear

Yuval Diskin |
Published: 04.20.20 , 12:21
There is still a way out from the terrible mess that Blue & White dragged us into when they decided to join the rescue operation for a thrice-indicted MK under the veil of the coronavirus and the pretext of a national crisis.
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  • We are witnessing an attempt to form a government with more than 30 ministers while the country is in the throes of an economic crisis.
    בני גנץ בני גנץ
    Benny Gantz chose to ally himself with a thrice-indicted Benjamin Netanyahu
    There are more than 1 million unemployed people in Israel; the poor became much poorer overnight; small businesses were left in a state of uncertainty and the middle class is forced to carry the entire country on its shoulders, dragging some below the breadline.
    All of this is because one man, Benjamin Netanyahu, trying to escape justice.
    This is the same man who dragged us into three elections - which cost the taxpayers huge amounts - and in an unprecedented show of cynicism, paralyzed the Knesset to prevent the realization of the most recent election results.
    This is the same defendant who tried as his own corruption trial loomed to reverse judicial appointments, meddle in the appointment of a new attorney general and state prosecutor and weaken the authority of the High Court of Justice.
    בנימין נתניהובנימין נתניהו
    Benjamin Netanyahu dragged Israel into three costly elections
    (Photo: GPO)
    This is the same man, who not long ago, sold us one million infected and 10,000 dead from coronavirus within a month as grounds to form an emergency government.
    Yet from the moment he got his way, all this man has done is drag his feet and try to turn Blue & White into a bunch of useful idiots who will let him consolidate his power and continue his corrupt activities.
    This is who the defendant is and as such his actions are hardly surprising.
    But what are the leaders of Blue & White doing? We wanted to believe they had dismantled the liberal bloc to form an emergency government and prevent a fourth election round. But now they are inside the maelstrom, holding no cards and having burnt every bridge with their former political partners.
    During its formation, I said I didn't believe Blue & White was a real solution, but I didn't expect it to turn into a whole new problem all of its own.
    It happened the moment the party betrayed those who supported it and who fought in the midst of the coronavirus crisis to reopen the Knesset so Blue & White could effectively confront the defendant’s goal of further entrenching himself in the Prime Minister's Office.
    After successfully reopenng the Knesset, less than a day passed before we learned that Blue & White leader Benny Gantz had chose to ally himself with the defendant.
    If recent reports are to be believed, Blue & White is more of a problem than the defendant's corrosion of politics, morality and perhaps now the judiciary.
    מחאת הדגלים השחורים בכנסת : "מצילים את הדמוקרטיה"מחאת הדגלים השחורים בכנסת : "מצילים את הדמוקרטיה"
    Protest against the closure of the Knesset during the coronavirus crisis
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Blue & White is about to use legislation to fortify the protection given to the defendant.
    In its rush to a unity government, Blue & White could well agree to give him tremendous sway over the committee to appoint judges and over the appointment of the state prosecutor and the attorney general.
    I don’t believe Gantz understands the severity of the situation and its consequences. He proved to many that he suffers from political blindness coupled with dangerous naivety when he tried to negotiate with the defendant with no cards - save for a petition to the High Court headed by an independent group.
    Fine, Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi are spearheading this unimaginable move. But what about you, Hili Tropper, Michael Biton, Mickey Haimovich, Alon Schuster and Asaf Zamir? You who have done one or two good things in your lives, do you really want to throw it all away just to be remembered as the ones who rescued an indicted politician?
    יום הכשרה לח"כים חדשיםיום הכשרה לח"כים חדשים
    Blue & White MKs Hili Tropper and Michael Bitan in the Knesset
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    The good news is that this black future can still be replaced by a blue and white one. To achieve this, Blue & White must immediately halt all unity negotiations.
    From the moment it does that, there is a reasonable chance that it will be able to earn the cooperation of Moshe Ya'alon’s Telem and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid.
    They may even get Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beytenu, the left-wing Meretz, and Amir Peretz’s Labor to join them. They may also succeed in reconciling with the Joint list, which has adopted a respectable parliamentary approach to this saga.
    If that happens, the situation will definitely improve. Firstly, Netanyahu knows full well that the High Court's sword is hanging over his head.
    He also knows that the petition to ban an indicted MK from serving as prime minister is based on very strong arguments. As Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Esther Hayut said: “The petition is worth consideration. There is no way of knowing how the High Court will rule, but it is a huge risk to the defendant.”
    Secondly, in parallel with the High Court action, Blue & White could advance Liberman’s draft legislation making it illegal for an indicted person to run for prime minister, even if the balance of power in the Knesset is still unclear.
    All those who know the defendant know how strained and weak he really is; there is no doubt the mere thought of a court trial like everyone else keeps him awake at night.
    Thirdly, Gantz and Ashkenazi need to behave just a little like the military leaders they once were and initiate, fight and maneuver.
    They need to go for a maneuver deep in their opponent’s home front . They did it before, so they know it only looks impossible at the beginning. Why not try to entice a Likud MK to form a unity government with them instead of Netanyahu?
    בני גנץ, גבי אשכנזי ומשה בוגי יעלוןבני גנץ, גבי אשכנזי ומשה בוגי יעלון
    Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    They should just pick someone, but make sure that it is not one of Netanyahu's cheerleaders like Miri Regev, Amir Ohana, Avi Dichter or Miki Zohar.
    The mere notion of a fight will surely spark new hope in the hearts of Likud members who are unsure how to free themselves from Netanyahu's grip.
    And they must use all forces at their disposal - turn to the right, center and left blocs, the ultra-Orthodox and the Joint List. They will discover what I and many others who worked with Netanyahu in the past realized a long time ago: He is just a man and one that panics easily.
    The second he recognizes that he has lost his grip, he will make any deal he can to save himself. He is, to put simply, afraid.
    Now is the time to wake up. The 21 days President Reuven Rivlin gave lawmakers to form a government are running out. They need to start talking business and they will see many in the Likud will recalculate their route. The same is true for others in the right-wing bloc.
    This will give Blue & White a chance to form a respectable, non-corrupt unity government without 30 ministers and unbridled political intrigue.
    It will remove the very real threat to Israel’s democracy, and will return some of the goodwill of some good and honorable people. It will also enable them to better deal with the current health crisis and its terrible economical consequences that will impact on many.
    Wake up Blue & White. Make your move, time is running out and our eyes are fixed on you.
    Yuval Diskin is a former director of the Shin Bet security service
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