Opinion: After three election campaigns and months of tense negotiations, the fifth Netanyahu government is here, and it is now clear how much Blue & White has betrayed its voters to shore up the indicted prime minister

Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signing a unity government deal
Blue & White party leader Benny Gantz and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signing a unity government deal

So, this is it – this is Israel’s emergency government for the coronavirus pandemic.

With the number of unemployed having long crossed the million mark, the economy collapsing and tens of thousands losing their businesses, we get a bloated, wasteful and shameful government whose sole purpose is to satiate the appetites of politicians, no matter what the cost or who foots the bill.

After three election campaigns and months of nerve-wracking negotiations, the fifth Netanyahu government was born on Monday evening.

Last Thursday, Gantz said he would seek to promote legislation that would prevent the criminally indicted Netanyahu from serving as prime minister – if the two sides failed to reach a deal on a unity government.

All anti-Netanyahu bills were immediately scrapped. The coalition agreement does not mention Netanyahu’s legal woes at all; in fact it gives full legitimacy to a prime minister with three serious indictments.

In return, practically every member of the Blue & White faction gets a ministry. This is a government of 32 ministers and 16 deputy ministers, at the very least.

In the coming days, each side will try to depict the deal as a great achievement and above all fly the flag of an “emergency government.”

But let’s not fool ourselves. This is neither an emergency government nor a unity government.

מחאת הדלגים השחורים בכיכר רבין
A protester at a Tel Aviv rally carries a poster quoting Benny Gantz as saying in March that he would never sit in government led by someone under indictment


This is a capitulation government born in a coronavirus era. The real motive was Netanyahu’s attempt to keep himself out of court as far as possible and if he does stand before a panel of judges, to do so from the position of prime minister.

There is no better proof of this than the fact that Blue & White has not claimed the Health Ministry, the most sought-after portfolio of our times, despite the fact its election campaign was based in part on the promise that the centrist party would take control of the post.

Instead, Blue & White leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi bestowed upon themselves the two most prestigious ministries- defense and foreign affairs.

כנס כחול לבן כפר סבא
Blue & White party leaders Benny Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi (Photo: Yariv Katz)


And if that weren’t enough, on July 1, Blue & White voters get to see how their votes facilitated the annexation of the West Bank. And just picture the faces of Labor-Meretz voters as they watch Amir Peretz, who is currently in the Knesset thanks to their support, raise his hand in favor of applying Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

One of the clauses in the unity agreement states that should the High Court disqualify Netanyahu from serving as prime minister, Israelis will have to go to the polls once more.

This proves one thing and one thing only: Netanyahu is announcing upfront that he is not going to honor the court’s ruling.

(Incidentally, immediately after the coalition agreement was signed, petitions were submitted to the High Court seeking to prevent lawmakers with criminal indictments from forming a government.

This is not the first time that the High Court has received such petitions, but it is the first time is had not rejected them on the grounds of it being a “theoretical” scenario.)

סימון שמירת מרחק של שני מטר במחאת הדלגים השחורים בכיכר רבין
Protesters in Tel Aviv maintain social distancing as they demonstrate against the unity agreement (Photo: EPA)


But what else did Gantz agree to? The list goes on and on.

Netanyahu will have the authority to determine the chief of police, the state prosecutor and top judges.

Contrary to Blue & White’s election promises, proposals to limit the number of terms a prime minister can serve were also binned. There will be no state commission of inquiry into the so-called Case 3000, in which individuals close to Netanyahu are suspected of receiving unlawful benefits while brokering a multi-billion arms deal between the state and a German company.

The Nation-State Law, which was met with sharp international criticism protesting the exclusion of the country’s minority groups, will remain untouched.

The decision on how many ultra-Orthodox men are drafted to the army each year will be handed to the sector’s lawmakers.

Netanyahu also has veto power with the Knesset Judiciary Committee, which means that in three years’ time, when his appeal against his conviction reaches the Supreme Court, he will be greeted by judges who he himself appointed.

Gantz even gave all the credit to Blue & White MK Zvi Hauser for pushing for the appointment of a representative from “the opposition” to the Judiciary Committee.

בנימין ושרה נתניהו
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara (Photo: AP)


And between the lines of this disgraceful document signed by Netanyahu and Gantz, we can find three words that sum up the whole sorry saga – “including housing arrangements.”

I read this phrase repeatedly, and each time it grew more disgraceful.

For despite all of Netanyahu and Gantz’s denials, there will evidently be two official residences come October 2021.

There will be one for the prime minister and his wife, and one for the emeritus prime minister and the emeritus prime minister’s wife and the emeritus prime minister’s sons, who will probably still be living within the “secure compound.”

As reported by Ynetnews