Unlike the baseball movie with its famous meme “If you build it, they will come,” Gantz will find that he cannot build a government, and they will not come.
By Rabbi Dov Fischer, ISRAEL HAYOM 03-11-2020 22:16
For all the talk and theorizing about how Blue and White leader Benny Gantz might be able to form a government without Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud buy-in, the reality is that Gantz is living in a field of dreams.
Unlike the baseball movie by that name, with its famous meme “If you build it, they will come,” Gantz will find that he cannot build it, and they will not come.
Blue and White won only 33 Knesset seats in this election. Amid all his frenzied activity to form a government on his terms, trying to corral a majority of Knesset members to recommend him to President Reuven Rivlin, few observers seem to ask where this “minority government” that he is negotiating is going to come from.
Yes, he can begin assembling his coalition by drawing seven allies from Labor-Meretz-Gesher. That could bring him to 40. However, if he attracts Avigdor Lieberman’s seven Yisrael Beytenu seats, too, then he inexorably writes off support from several Arab Knesset members who have explicitly stated they will not sit with Lieberman.
Meanwhile, the Balad section of the Joint Arab List has announced that they will not support Gantz as prime minister regardless of Lieberman’s place in negotiations. On yet another front, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser of the more right-wing Telem faction within Blue and White will not participate in endorsing a government that relies on the Joint Arab List’s cooperation to let it stand. Most recently, MK Orly Levy-Abekasis has announced that she and her Gesher Party (which caucuses with Labor and Meretz) will not be part of such a government either.
Gantz’s reaction to all the splintering is to demand party discipline. Thus, if Hendel and Hauser will not vote as he demands, he has conveyed that he wants them to resign. Really? If he spits those two out of Blue and White, he practically will deliver them to Likud’s 58-seat coalition of religious and other right-wing Knesset members. And then if he pushes and alienates Levy-Abekasis hard enough, he practically will deliver Bibi a government of his own.
Gantz is blind to reality. He cannot form a government on his terms. The pieces he wants to use in forming his minority-government coalition jigsaw puzzle simply do not fit with each other. It always has been inevitable that at least some Arab MKs from the Joint List would refuse to be associated with the same Avigdor Lieberman.
How could Gantz imagine that all Arab MKs on the Joint List would compromise so shamefully on their own self-respect that they would sit with Lieberman? And how can Gantz believe that he can enforce a “party discipline” that compels right-leaning Knesset members to vote against conscience and agree to support a government that relies on Arab anti-Zionists who even include several Joint List MKs with histories of justifying and otherwise apologizing for Arab anti-Jewish terror and murder?
As soon as a mythical Blue and White government finally would have to act meaningfully in the face of rocket attacks, the entire Joint Arab List would bring down Gantz’s government, paralyzing national security.
He could be out in a week. Or if he starts lobbying European Union nations to accept some kind of extension of Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, the Arab MKs would bring him down.
Gantz thinks he can form a government on his own terms because his party secured only three seats fewer than did the Likud, while the Likud and its religious allies fall short of an outright majority in the Knesset.
However, Gantz confuses Likud’s own challenge of coalition-building with the mirage that Blue and White somehow can offer an alternative coalition plan that can govern cohesively without Likud dominance.
When the pilgrims of Psalm 137 ascended to the Land of Israel to rebuild Zion after the Babylonian expulsion, the Biblical poem tells us that they “were as dreamers.”
But at least their dream had a basis in reality, as the subsequent history of the restored Jewish Commonwealth attested. By contrast, Gantz’s dream reflects a significant inability to grasp the reality that the Israeli Jewish electorate cast nearly two-thirds of their votes on March 2 for Knesset members who are to the right of center.
No Israeli government that relies on the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List for its existence can stand – and therefore cannot even be formed. Yet Gantz cannot form a government without them either. That is the reality he still cannot grasp two weeks since the elections.