National Unity party leader, Knesset Member Benny Gantz reiterated that he will not join a government with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, even in order to support a possible peace deal with Saudi Arabia.
Gantz made the statement on Monday during his keynote speech at a conference convened by the Jewish People Policy Institute (JPPI) in Jerusalem to launch the English edition of the organization's book, "A Jewish State – 75 Perspectives."
“If the agreement is good, I will support it from the outside,” said former IDF Defense Minister Gantz.
When asked about his opinion regarding whether compromises on the judicial reform would be possible during the upcoming Knesset winter session, Gantz replied, “I’m willing to compromise nothing. [But] I’m willing to come to an agreement on many issues.”
“I will not compromise over the democracy in terms of politicization of the judicial system, nor do I intend to compromise over the independence of the judicial system… zero compromise over this issue,” Gantz said, but added that he is willing to reach agreements on some of the details, such as the simple majority for Basic Laws.
The former defense minister also noted that the judicial reform debate has damaged Israel “diplomatically, economically, socially, in any way I can think of. Gaps with Diaspora Jewry have grown… We must solve it in the right way.”
He also discussed the recent attacks against Israel's Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara by members of the government coalition.
“The attack on the attorney general by government ministers and members of the Knesset are like terrorist acts designed to threaten her and prevent her from doing her job," Gantz said. "I support her and her decisions all the way and condemn the unbridled attack against her.”
Gantz made an unpopular decision to join a government with Netanyahu in April 2020 following three inconclusive rounds of elections in just two years. His controversial decision split his party Blue and White in the process. Despite an agreement to rotate the premiership between them, Gantz never became prime minister as the government collapsed before the planned rotation.
Gantz blamed Netanyahu for preventing the passage of the national budget – which triggered new elections – and since then has repeated his position that he would never again enter a government with Netanyahu.
Just before Gantz’s speech, dozens of protesters demonstrated outside the venue in an attempt to silence JPPI Board Member Elliott Abrams, chairman of the Tikvah Fund. A handful of protesters disrupted Abrams inside the hall with shouts of “shame” and by lifting banners accusing him, for example, of “funding dictators.”
Abrams responded to the protestors by saying, "The protest is based on a lie that was previously published, according to which the Tikvah Fund supports the Kohelet Policy Forum – this is a complete lie.”
The JPPI describes itself as an “independent center of thought and planning for shaping strategy and action-oriented policy for the Jewish people, in Israel and the Diaspora.”
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.