The Blue and White party experienced a great deal of political drama in the past few days due to party leader Benny Gantz’s decision to pursue the formation of a minority government supported by the Arab Joint List.
Two Blue and White MKs, Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser, who are both part of Bogie Yaalon’s center-right Telem party and former Likud members, are refusing to support a minority government with the Arab parties.
The two were reportedly summoned to Yaalon’s office where a tense and loud exchange took place. Hendel and Hauser pointed out that Blue and White had repeatedly promised voters that they would never form a government with the Arab parties who deny Israel’s right to exist but to no avail. Yaalon informed them that they either support the minority government or resign from the party.
Blue and White cannot force the MKs to resign and if they do resign, they would be subject to sanctions, including not being able to be appointed as ministers in the current Knesset. A party can expel MKs but can’t force them to give up their Knesset seats which means that they can continue serving as independents.
https://t.co/Ok45J3ovuD Blue White is demanding that Hauser and Hendel agree to the deal with the Joint List or resign. Yes, of course the party can't force them to resign. Will they push them to join the right wing block?
— Ben Waxman (@benwaxman) March 9, 2020
However, Gantz would not be able to win a majority vote for a minority government without the votes of Hauser and Hendel. And later on Monday, an Arutz Sheva report said that Blue and White MK Chili Tropper has decided to join Hendel and Hauser in opposing the formation of a minority government. Tropper is an American Israeli Religious Zionist, whose father, Rabbi Danny Tropper, has been active in Religious Zionist parties for years.
ח״כ חילי טרופר של ״כחול לבן״ תרם אתמול כליה לאדם שאינו מכיר, בבית החולים הדסה עין כרם.
דרך עמותת ״מתנת חיים״ של הרב ישעיהו הבר.
איזה איש, מצדיע לך חילי ! 💙🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/n795B5Qpqa
— הדר סגל hadar segal 🇮🇱🇮🇱 (@hadarse) February 3, 2020
Another problem is that Balad, the most extreme Arab party on the Joint List, said they will not recommend Gantz for prime minister. Balad MK Heba Yazbak, who was disqualified by the Central Elections Committee from running in the elections for publicly supporting terrorists – a decision that was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court – stated on Monday that Balad is opposed to the Joint Arab List recommending Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz to form the next government.
— ערוץ 20 (@arutz20) March 8, 2020
Yazbak added that the Hadash party also opposes recommending Gantz. Hadash MK Ofer Cassif, the party’s sole Jewish member, said in an interview on Monday that the Hadash party “will not support a government under any circumstances which includes the racist Liberman…who has been inciting against us for years.”
Blue and White will only be able to form a minority government with the mutual cooperation of 12 out of 15 members of the Arab Joint List and the Yisrael Beiteinu party. Yisrael Beiteinu chairman Avigdor Liberman has hawkish views on all matters relating to Israel’s Arab population and has been warning of the Arab parties’ threat to Israel for years, a fact that makes cooperation between the Joint List and Yisrael Beiteinu a highly unlikely prospect.
Gantz and Liberman held a meeting on Monday morning, during which they agreed to cooperate on forming a government. Conveniently skimming over the fact that their meeting was about doing something that both of them had explicitly promised voters they would never do, they stated after the meeting that they will do “everything they can to prevent a fourth election.”
Later on Monday, Gantz met with Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh. Gantz also called the representatives of three of the four parties that make up the Joint List, purposely skipping over Balad. However, Odeh called Gantz to rebuke him for omitting Balad and Gantz gave in and called Balad as well. A meeting between Gantz and the representatives of all four parties in the Joint List is scheduled for Tuesday morning.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the report of Gantz’s meeting with Balad: “Benny Gantz sent messengers to Balad to form a minority government dependent on supporters of terror, which would be dangerous to Israel.”
A Makor Rishon reporter Yishai Freidman tweeted a photo of Joint List leader Aymen Odeh meeting with Nayef Hawatmeh, leader of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine which carried out the massacre in Maalot in 1974 in which 27 Israelis were killed, including 21 teenagers. The commander of the military arm of the Democratic Front was eliminated in Operation Cast Lead at the instruction of Gabi Ashkenazi, today one of the leaders of Blue and White, who reportedly is also against forming a minority government with the Joint List.
יו"ר המשותפת איימן עודה במפגש (2018) בירדן עם נאיף חוואתמה, ראש ארגון החזית הדמוקרטית לשחרור פלסטין. ארגונו של חוואתמה ביצע את הטבח במעלות (ב-1974. 27 נרצחים, ביניהם 21 תלמידים). מפקד הזרוע הצבאית של החזית הדמוקרטית בעזה חוסל בעופרת יצוקה בהוראת גבי אשכנזי, היום בכיר "כחול לבן". pic.twitter.com/103LMnYSSD
— ישי פרידמן (@IshayFridman) March 9, 2020
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)