In a further sign of an eroding lack of trust in the current government, Defense Minister Benny Gantz — who is slated to be the alternate prime minister under the power-sharing government agreement he made with Benjamin Netanyahu — said he doesn’t believe the current premier will step down when the time comes.
Gantz’s comments — made to associates in a private meeting — were leaked and reported by Channel 12 and The Jerusalem Post.
“I understand that I won’t get the rotation,” Gantz reportedly said, the first time he reportedly expressed doubt about the arrangement. “I won’t believe Netanyahu even a day before it is to happen.”
After the story broke, Gantz threatened to make anyone who was present at the meeting undergo a polygraph to see who leaked the information. Gantz canceled the lie detector test though after finding out the source of the leak.
Gantz may be the last to the party, as no one in Israel actually believed that Netanyahu would willfully give up the Prime Minister seat to serve under a new leader. Netanyahu has been refusing to pass a two-year budget and instead has been pushing for just a one-year budget. Why? A two-year budget would keep him from dissolving the government before Gantz takes over.
In any case, the country is still operating without a budget for 2020 and if it is not passed (whether for one or two years) by Dec. 23, the Knesset automatically disbands and forces new elections.
According to the report, some of the members of Gantz’s Blue and White party were reportedly in favor of immediately pulling out of the coalition. And Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi warned that Blue and White should not give in over the budget.
“I understand that he [Netanyahu] will never give the rotation to Benny,” Ashkenazi said, “and therefore we need to break it up now.”
Knesset Member Omer Yankelevich said going to elections now would be “suicidal” and opposed it.
Opposition leader Yair Lapid — who ran with Gantz but then went their separate ways when Blue and White joined with Likud — was going to introduce a bill to dissolve the Knesset and hold new general elections, but he withdrew it.
Meanwhile, Likud has been blaming Blue and White for a lack of cooperation on the budget and other issues.