Gantz’s Push for Annexation Makes Joint List Support for Him Unlikely

Senior members of the Joint List maintain that, given Blue & White’s support for US President Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” chances are slim that the alliance will recommend that Israel’s president grant MK Benny Gantz, B&W’s leader, the opportunity to form a new government, even if his party attains the highest number of Knesset seats in the March 2 election.

Hadash MK Youssef Jabareen said Friday, January 31, that the four-party bloc would not repeat giving its backing to Blue & White after the next election because Gantz declared that, if he is assigned the task of forming a coalition and succeeds in attaining the premiership, he will work to adopt Trump’s imperialist plan, which the Joint list unequivocally rejects.

After the last Israeli election in September, the Joint List recommended to President Reuven Rivlin that Gantz be assigned the task of forming a government. However now, without the backing of the Joint List, it is highly unlikely that Gantz will have enough parliamentary support to even be assigned the task.

Hadash MK Youssef Jabareen (center) during a protest against US President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century" in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm on Friday, January 31, 2020

Hadash MK Youssef Jabareen (center) during a protest against US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” in the northern city of Umm al-Fahm on Friday, January 31, 2020 (Photo: Al Ittihad)

“We will not support Gantz in forming a government because of his support for the project they call the ‘Deal of the Century,'” said MK Jabareen, speaking to Channel 12 Television. Jabareen said the plan released by US President Donald Trump “ignores the rights of the Palestinians according to international law.” “This is not a peace plan. It’s a plan for war,” said Hadash Knesset member Ofer Cassif (Joint List) after the details of the plan where revealed by the White House with much fanfare on Tuesday, January 28. Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) told Haaretz “Blue & White hasn’t left any opening for cooperation.” Touma-Sliman claimed that Gantz and his party are seeking to advance matters with far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.

Last week, Trump met with Blue & White leader Gantz in Washington before he rolled out the apartheid plan, and Gantz has since said he will bring the entire proposal before the next Knesset for approval. In contrast to Netanyahu, who has said he will try to annex the West Bank settlements and the occupied Jordan Valley before the elections, Gantz said the plan should only be implemented after the March vote and in “coordination with the international community.” After his meeting with Trump, Gantz said, first in Hebrew and then in English, “The Trump administration’s peace plan is indeed a significant and historic milestone,” and went on to declare that “Immediately after the elections, I will work towards implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in collaboration with the other countries in our region.”

Netanyahu vowed in Washington last week that he would bring the annexation decision to the cabinet in its next meeting that had been scheduled for Sunday, February 2. However, this promise hit a snag when Netanyahu was warned against doing so by the US president’s envoy and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The cabinet meeting was cancelled, and no new date has been set.

The latest polls continue to show a deadlock between those parties supporting Gantz and those belonging to Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc. These same polls also show that the Joint List will win between 13 and 15 Knesset seats in the March 2 election.