Is Blue&White chairman MK Benny Gantz about to declare himself the prime minister of a minority coalition government that relies on the far left and the Arabs? The glaring proof took place Monday in the Knesset plenum, when MK Ahmad Tibi (Joint Arab List) told the Jewish MKs that just as he had expressed empathy for the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, so should they bear empathy to the family of eight in Gaza that was killed by mistake in an IAF attack that was fed outdated intelligence.
When Tibi got off the podium, he passed by Gantz, who occupies the corner seat of his opposition row, and stopped Tibi to say, “I only suggest that we pay attention to the fact that the IDF is investigating how this incident happened, while Hamas and Jihad are investigating how they didn’t harm civilians.”
It was a friendly sort of jibe, nothing even close to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Sunday night’s reverberating attack on Arab politicians and the doom they would wreak on Israel should Blue&White dare include them in the coalition, even as loyal outsiders.
And then Gantz turned to the Joint Arab List row of seats, and in a naïve tone almost reminiscent of Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, said: “I want to tell you, my Arab friends, we do not agree on everything. I respectfully accept the criticism you voice about the State of Israel’s actions towards the Palestinian public, or at all. I offer you an important, friendly suggestion: don’t say what you say about the IDF, because it’s not true.”
Gantz took the podium to address Netanyahu’s harsh warnings at the Likud “emergency conference” Sunday night, saying a minority government supported by the Joint Arab List was “an existential threat.”
“I do not accept the incitement voiced at Knesset members who are his political rivals,” Gantz told the plenum. “In general, I don’t accept the incitement that was voiced against Arab MKs who represent a public that’s a legitimate part of the State of Israel. This incitement campaign is out-of-place and wrong.”
Is Gantz the antidote to Bibi’s clever arguments, acerbic humor, and almost visceral contempt for his enemies? If he is, and he gets to take the helm for a few months at the head of a transitional minority government, Israeli voters, including some on the right, might not vote for him, but could grow to like him.
Speaking of acerbic humor and contempt for his enemies, on Sunday night, Netanyahu said a minority government is the dream of the regime in Tehran: “A government that depends on Ahmad Tibi and Cassif and Ayman Odeh and their friends can veto essential activities for the security of Israeli citizens. If it arises, it would seriously damage Israel’s security. A minority government supported by terrorists is the Hamas’ dream government. Iran’s and Hezbollah’s as well. They would celebrate in Ramallah and Tehran and Gaza, too.”
Then he made wicked fun of MK Yair Lapid, who pretends to raise the banner of secularism while seeking the cooperation of the Haredi parties. “If it were up to Yair Lapid, he would have worn a shtreimel, put on tefillin twice a day, keep Shabbat twice a week, and should it be necessary, even take a second circumcision. He would pay almost any price. ”
Gantz met with Israel Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman Monday night – after Liberman had announced that once the president’s mandate expires on Wednesday, “It’s every man for himself.” Netanyahu may be hysterical with his roast of his enemies, but his enemies are planning stuff that could revolutionize religious life in Israel.
On Monday, some far-reaching items were leaked from the agreement between Israel Beiteinu and Blue&White, including a full implementation of the Western Wall outline sharing the plaza with the Reform and Conservative; a marriage law allowing any two people of age to marry according to their worldview; the original military draft law treating Haredi young people like everyone else; canceling the Supermarkets Act which prohibits shopping on Shabbat in most municipalities; and openly available public transportation on Shabbat.
They have until Wednesday.