Gantz’s Anti-Gaza Threat: Strategy Or Tactic For Political Gains?
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Gantz’s Anti-Gaza Threat: Strategy Or Tactic For Political Gains?

Last month, President Reuven Rivlin picked Benny Gantz, the leader of Blue and White alliance, to form a cabinet after the key nominee Benjamin Netanyahu failed to do so. But Gantz has so far gone nowhere with his effort to put an end to the political limbo. Some sides have begun to raise new choices, including holding an election to directly pick a prime minister or holding a third parliamentary election within a year to address the crisis, though none of the major parties have shown interest in such options. The polls show that among the Israelis there is a bigger willingness in Gantz premiership than in Netanyahu’s. According to Peace Index institute’s polls, ordered by Israeli Channel 12, 54 percent of 600 people have said that they hope for the success of Gantz within the 10 remaining days of the deadline. Only 30 percent were against his cabinet formation. The remaining said they were undecided. As Gantz gets bigger popularity with the public for the post and news come out that Avigdor Lieberman, the Yisrael Beiteinu, is engaged in talks with him for an agreement, Netanyahu finds it harder to save his smaller allies. Now some of these parties, finding the ground appropriate for bargaining, demand bigger concessions from Netanyahu’s Likud party. Last week, Netanyahu gave the post of defense minister to Neftali Bennet of Jewish Home party as a concession to keep the latter from breaking with Likud. Bennet has been holding the ministry of education since 2015. Recently, word spread that he negotiated with the Blue and White bloc to join a government of minority led by Gantz. Netanyahu’s appointment of a figure with little knowledge and experience of military affairs has unleashed criticism against him among the political circles. Many detractors argued that the move contradicts Netanyahu’s frequent warnings about the alleged security risks to the Israeli regime posed by Iran and Gaza. The criticism gave Gantz the momentum to deal the final blow to Netanyahu by issuing fiery slogans against the foes, namely the Gaza-based Hamas and Islamic Jihad. He invited the military to launch heavy-handed strikes on Gaza and resume the assassination of Palestinian leaders in the besieged enclave. His hard-line stances give rise to questions: Is he simply seeking to attract the hardliners? Will he develop a moderate stance towards Gaza should he become a prime minister?  A couple of factors affect answers to these questions. First is the unprecedented alliance of the Arabs who hold 15 seats in the Knesset with the Gantz-led left-wing to put an end to decade-long Netanyahu rule. Naturally, the presence of Arabs will mean at least minimum acceptance of their views and stances which apparently will not lean to intensified pressure against the Palestinians in Gaza or elsewhere.  The second one is about whether or not Netanyahu and Gantz will manage to strike a deal for a coalition government. In his latest stances, Lieberman, who is against a third election, has called Likud and White and Blue to prevent Arab role in a new Israeli government. He proposed for circular premiership, namely a two-year term for Netanyahu and a similar one for Gantz. This idea has a scanty chance of going ahead, whoever.  Under the Gantz-led government the pressures on the Palestinians to yield to the “deal of the century”, which strips the Palestinians of their right of return home and legalizes the Israeli settlements, will increase. But the Gantz-headed government will not be interested in repeating Netanyahu’s Gaza mistakes as any new attacks on Gaza will have unknown consequences for the Israeli security and possible Arab world stance against a new anti-Gaza war will put the deal of the century on shaky ground.

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«December 2019»