February 27, 2020

Benny Gantz's Worst Nightmare

“Despite his precisely targeted campaign and some unexpected support, the chances of Gideon Saar engineering a surprise defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Dec. 26 primaries for the Likud party leadership are still considered modest. Netanyahu is campaigning intensely and enjoys strong support among party members, even if some of them realize this is the end of an era.

But as strange as it sounds, not only Netanyahu’s close associates and sworn fans are praying for his victory; so are his political rivals, especially leaders of the opposition Blue and White party. A resounding Netanyahu defeat with Saar assuming the party leadership and candidacy for prime minister would deal Blue and White a strategic blow.

The Blue and White party, led by three former army chiefs — Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi — together with Yair Lapid does not have an appropriate alternative for the effective machine that has been churning out votes for them this past year. More so. Netanyahu’s disappearance from the public arena would also defuse the main and almost sole source of energy fueling the entire Israeli political system. Netanyahu is like the sun around which the entire planetary system orbits. If he is unseated, all its components will have to recalibrate their course.

Blue and White was not established to revive the peace process with the Palestinians, to cut inflation, to reduce unemployment or to destroy Iran’s nuclear program. Blue and White was formed with only one goal in mind: To bring to an end the Netanyahu regime, which many in Israel perceive as undermining the pillars of Israeli society and ripping apart the delicate social fabric keeping together 9 million members of many tribes and diverse groups. Netanyahu was the only glue linking Gantz and Lapid, Ashkenazi and Ya’alon and all of them to each other. The past two years, during which Netanyahu has intensified his terrible campaign against the country’s law enforcement and legal authorities, set off strident alarm bells and stirred people like Ashkenazi, who had already decided to forego a political career, to action. Blue and White is comprised of right-wing Likud supporters and left-wing Meretz voters, secular and religious Israelis, liberals and conservatives, a diverse array of views and directions that no one could have bound together in one large, effective party. No one, that is, except Benjamin Netanyahu.”

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