Joint List denounces Gantz partnering with Netanyahu in unity government

A woman walks past a Joint Arab List campaign billboard in the Arab Israeli town of Umm el-Fahm (Ammar Awad - Reuters)

Middle East Monitor  /  March 27, 2020

Joint List lawmakers expressed outrage and condemned Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz for forming a new unity government that would keep the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in power.

The faction knew nothing about the move to nominate Gantz to the post of Knesset speaker, reported Israel Hayom.

The former Israel army chief of staff was elected speaker of the Knesset yesterday in a surprise move with the support of the Netanyahu-led right-wing bloc, a development that split his own Blue and White Party.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen said: “The Likud B, which throughout the election campaign spoke of a ‘Jewish majority’ and fell in line with unilateral annexation [of the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank], joined Likud A. We will lead the opposition to the government of continued incitement, racism, and occupation.”

MK Ofer Cassif, also of the Joint List, also denounced the move, saying that “Benny Gantz chose to steal the mandates and pave the way for an ethno-fascist government headed by the serial defendant. I am warning Gantz and anyone thinking about joining him – this path will lead to disaster, not just for us but for you. For all of society.”

According to Arutz Sheva, MK Ahmad Tibi expressed disappointment at Gantz’s decision as according to him, Gantz “crawled on his belly” and his joining a Likud-led government is shameful.

He stated that Gantz has “failed” and added, “Blue and White was formed to provide an alternative government. That was what Gantz and Blue and White said, that was the public discourse. There were 61 MKs behind him – precisely because of that.”

The criticism didn’t only come from the Arab dominated Joint List, but also one of his closest allies in Blue and White, Yair Lapid, ripped Gantz’s decision as a betrayal of the party’s voters, saying: “Their votes were stolen and given as a gift to Netanyahu.”

“Benny Gantz decided today to break apart Blue and White and crawl into Netanyahu’s government. It’s a disappointing decision,” Lapid said, speaking in Tel Aviv Thursday night. “What’s being formed today isn’t a unity government and not an emergency government. It’s another Netanyahu government.”

Gantz defended himself in a speech after he was elected speaker with the support of Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc, saying it was “the right thing to do at this time.”

“These are not normal times and they call for unusual decisions,” he said. “Therefore… I intend to examine and advance in every way the establishment of an emergency national unity government.”