Opinion: PM’s worst enemy is time, as his trial is set to resume in February with witness testimonies, limiting his ability to pervert Israel’s judiciary and escape a jail sentence; Blue & White can scupper this by staying in government

The coalition agreement signed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the Likud and Defense Minister Benny Gantz for the Blue & White Party, will go down in history as one of the most conniving political tricks.

Netanyahu promised to vacate the office of prime minister 18 months after the coalition was established and allow Gantz to take the position.

בני גנץ
Defense Minister Benny Gantz (Photo: Avi Rokah)


But soon after the deal was signed, people close to Netanyahu claimed Gantz could not become prime minister as he no longer represented a substantial part of the electorate – due to his split from the alliance of parties with which he was elected – and now represented no more than 15 Knesset seats.

A prime minister who does not honor his commitments hardly exemplifies an acceptable culture of governance, but the head of a Knesset faction with little political support cannot lead the government either.

Gantz is an honest politician who kept his word to place the good of the country ahead of his own political future.

The coalition agreement he signed in May has this far succeeded in blocking legislation that would have allowed Netanyahu to escape criminal prosecution for the charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

בנימין נתניהו
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Photo: Flash 90)


Gantz having a member of his party, Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, at the head of the judiciary has prevented the prime minister and his cronies from picking the heads of the prosecution and the judges who would oversee Netanyahu’s trial.

Last week Blue & White joined the opposition in supporting the first reading of a bill to dissolve the Knesset. But Gantz left the door open for Netanyahu to avert a fourth election in less than two years by agreeing to meet his commitments under the coalition deal.

Now is the time for Gantz to evaluate his next political move.

Appealing to Netanyahu’s sense of decency is a waste of time because he is not a decent person and he cannot afford to be decent at this time.

Netanyahu is no doubt aware of the life of a prisoner, as recounted by former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was jailed for his own corruption.

Olmert describes in his book the daily roll call he had to attend while in prison; what would Netanyahu do if he had to stand in line with his fellow prisoners?

Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaving Maasiyahu Prison at the conclusion of his sentence in 2017
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert leaving Maasiyahu Prison at the conclusion of his sentence in 2017 (Photo: AFP)


In his desperation, Netanyahu is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to avoid a verdict that would place him behind bars.

He is also the most gifted political campaigner in Israel and perhaps among the most gifted in the world. He could sell sand to the Saudis and prove that the yeshiva students who arrived while infected with COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic were actually members of the Blue & White party in disguise.

Gantz must determine the best way to stop this dangerous man. For the polls show that the next elections will make the right-wing bloc that Netanyahu heads even stronger.

Netanyahu will also benefit from the rise of Yamina leader Naftali Bennett – who has been marketing himself not as the far-right politician he actually is but rather as a leader who is focused only on defeating the coronavirus – and is managing to take votes from Blue & White.

מליאת הכנסת
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett addressing the Knesset in August (Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon)


Even so, the former IDF chief of staff has evolved politically and his recent public appearances show him to be on the right track. But he needs more time to transform himself into an effective politician before Israelis are asked to cast their votes once more, probably in March.

Gantz should not be seeking an election solely because Netanyahu insulted him. Netanyahu has conned members of his own political party many times before – that is just who he is.

The prime minister’s sole concern is his criminal trial and Gantz and his partners must be cognizant of that fact.

They should expect the prime minister to take full credit for the arrival of coronavirus vaccines, and rush to the airport when the first batch arrives to face the cameras with full fanfare, while keeping all other ministers away. Just to improve his chances for a greater election win.

בנימין נתניהו בית משפט המחוזי ירושלים
Benjamin Netanyahu appearing in court as part of his corruption trial, May 2020 (Photo: Contact)


Blue & White should compromise. Gantz and his party should let Netanyahu win the budget fight that they say is the reason to bring down the government.

They should even submit to taking the rotation of prime ministers off the table, in order to protect the future of Israel’s judiciary and its constitutional integrity.

Netanyahu’s greatest enemy is time. Testimonies will be heard in his trial in February and that will reduce his ability to carry out his plans for the legal system. But only if Blue & White remain in the government.

As reported by Ynetnews