Did Gantz mean the Likud leader or a senior colleague in his own party?
By World Israel News Staff
To whom was Blue and White leader Benny Gantz speaking when he made cutting remarks about “matters of ego” while accepting the mandate to form a government from President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday evening?
Was he speaking to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as most assumed? Or was he directing his attack at one of his own party’s leading members, Yair Lapid?
“Whoever drags Israel to third elections will be tossed from the political establishment,” said the former IDF chief of staff. “I made tough decisions in the past. I made tough decisions this year. If I need to, I will make tough decisions in the coming days. My friends and I are set for it.
“There will be a place for everyone who puts the national interest first. There will be a place in the government for everyone. I don’t intend to waste time on matters of ego.”
It was generally assumed that he was speaking to Netanyahu, who had first dibs at forming a government but failed, returning it on Oct. 21.
Yediot Ahronot took this position. Quoting the above comment, the paper said it was a “clear warning” directed at Netanyahu “without mentioning his name.”
However, competing daily Israel Hayom had a much different take. Citing two anonymous Blue and White officials, it said the comments were meant for fellow Blue and White member Lapid.
“Perhaps it sounded to people like Gantz meant Netanyahu when he said those things,” a Blue and White source said. “But actually he meant Lapid, and Yair knows it very well.”
Another source quoted by the paper said, “Benny is fed up with Yair’s ego. [Gantz] want to establish a government and be prime minister. He understands that Lapid pulls Blue and White down in everything connected to establishing a unity government.
“Lapid has an allergy to Netanyahu and Blue and White wants to conduct negotiations with the Likud, and right now Netanyahu stands at the head and its important to deal with him,” the source said.
“This is the chance for Blue and White to replace the government, and if Lapid doesn’t understand that and won’t let go of his ego, he will be tossed out… Benny understands that Lapid and his ego can lead Israel to third elections, and the opportunity Blue and White now has won’t be lost because of Lapid, therefore it’s important that he understands the message, that he’ll straighten up and get behind him [Gantz],” the source added.
Blue and White denied the comments were accurate. “Another lie that never was. Gantz and Lapid are united and in concert and came to this moment together in contrast to all the forecasts and obituaries,” a party statement said. “We suggest listening and quoting his words, and not anonymous officials.”
Gantz has already met with a number of party leaders in his efforts to form a government. He has 28 days in which to cobble together a majority of 61 Knesset seats. He may apply for a 14-day extension after that.