Yesh Atid Party head Yair Lapid on Tuesday blasted his former political partner Blue and White leader Benny Gantz for agreeing to a power-sharing agreement with incumbent Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing Gantz of misleading voters.
Lapid, who co-chaired the Blue and White political alliance with Gantz that tried to unseat Netanyahu in three consecutive elections, accused Gantz of perpetrating “the greatest deception in Israeli history.” He further accused Gantz of helping Netanyahu, who will soon stand trial for alleged corruption, evade justice. “You don’t fight corruption from within. If you are inside, you are part of the corruption, and you are corrupt,” he said.
The Yesh Atid leader apologized to all those he had convinced to vote for Blue and White, saying he could not have predicted the outcome.
“I apologize to all those I convinced to vote for Gantz and Blue and White, I could not have anticipated that they would steal your votes and create Netanyahu’s fifth government,” said Lapid.
Under the terms of the unity deal, Netanyahu will remain prime minister for 18 months, during which time Gantz will serve as vice prime minister and defense minister, after which Gatz will take over as premier for 18 months, during which Netanyahu will serve as vice prime minister.
In announcing the deal, Gantz admitted that he was reneging on his pledge not to sit in a Netanyahu government, but added that circumstances had changed since he made the pledge, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Likud defended Gantz’s move on Tuesday, hitting back at Lapid: “Rather than show responsibility and join an emergency government to help Israelis struggling to make a living, Lapid has preferred to stay in the opposition and try to take Israel into another round of elections and lecture us from the bleachers.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the unity deal was attacked by the Yamina Party, a right-wing faction that is considered one of Netanyahu’s allies. Yamina is expected to get only a few ministerial portfolios in the new government and has threatened to remain in the opposition.
However, sources within Likud said that the prime minister was keen on keeping them in his government.
“Netanyahu needs them in his Cabinet. There are some ideological matters, like the extension of Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria [under the Trump administration’s peace plan] that could be torpedoed if Yamina doesn’t join us. Netanyahu wants Yamina as full-fledged partners on the right,” a Likud source told Israel Hayom.
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.