Joint List MK says party won’t back Blue and White over support of Trump plan

Left-wing Labour-Gesher-Meretz also takes Benny Gantz to task for backing proposal that calls for Israel to annex Jordan Valley and settlements

Blue and White chair Benny Gantz (C) meeting with leaders of the Joint List alliance, Ayman Odeh (L) and Ahmed Tibi, October 31, 2019. (Ofek Avshalom)
Blue and White chair Benny Gantz (C) meeting with leaders of the Joint List alliance, Ayman Odeh (L) and Ahmed Tibi, October 31, 2019. (Ofek Avshalom)

A lawmaker from the Joint List alliance said Friday it would not give its backing again to the Blue and White party after the next elections since leader Benny Gantz said he would work to adopt the Trump peace plan if elected.

“We will not support Gantz [in forming a government] due to his support of this project they call the ‘Deal of the Century,'” said MK Yousuf Jabareen, speaking to Channel 12 TV.

Jabareen said the plan released Tuesday by US President Donald Trump “ignores the rights of the Palestinians according to law.”

The proposal recognizes Israel’s right to annex the Jordan Valley, all West Bank settlements and their surroundings — some 30% of the West Bank in total.

Trump hosted Blue and White leader MK Benny Gantz in Washington before he rolled out the peace plan, and Gantz has since said he will bring the entire proposal for approval by the Knesset next week.

MK Yousef Jabareen attends a committee meeting in the Knesset, December 13, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

However, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he will try and annex the West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley ahead of the elections, Gantz said the plan should only be implemented after the March vote and in coordination with the international community.

“The Trump administration’s peace plan is a significant and historic milestone indeed,” Gantz said, first in Hebrew and then in English after meeting Trump. “Immediately after the elections, I will work toward implementing it from within a stable, functioning Israeli government, in tandem with the other countries in our region.”

The mostly Arab Joint list broke with decades of tradition after September’s Israeli elections and recommended Gantz for prime minister.

The decision marked the first time Arab parties — separately or together — have recommended a mainstream Zionist politician since 1992, when they supported Labor Party leader Yitzhak Rabin, who campaigned on peace with the Palestinians.

Lawmaker Ahmad Tibi said in September that the decision was made despite the party’s reservations about Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff who commanded Israel’s 2014 war against terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.

“Benny Gantz is not our cup of tea. We have a lot of criticism of him, specifically regarding Gaza,” said Tibi. “But when we told our public that we would do all we can to remove Netanyahu from power, we realized that we would need to take a bold step.”

Without the backing of the Joint List, it is unlikely that Gantz will get enough support to be allowed to form a government. The latest polls continue to show a deadlock between Gantz’s center and left coalition and Netanyahu’s right-wing and religious bloc.

Labor party leader Amir Peretz speaks in Tel Aviv, January 20, 2020. (Flash90)

Also Friday, leftist Labor-Gesher-Meretz chairman MK Amir Peretz attacked the Blue and White party, saying the centrist movement is “walking a fine line and looking for every opportunity to shift to the right. The attempt to bring the Trump plan for a Knesset vote testifies that they also prefer unilateral annexation over negotiations and separating from the Palestinians,” Maariv reported.

Labor MK Itzik Shmuli on Tuesday also lambasted the plan, calling it “the fraud of the century.”

“The immediate annexation of wide territories and isolated settlements, that do not contribute to security, negates the important recognition of the two-state solution, rejects any chance to achieve separation and will bring about the fatal demand for a single state, which contradicts our national and security interests,” he said.

However, Netanyahu’s vow to bring the annexation decision to the cabinet on Sunday hit a snag when he was warned against doing so by the president’s envoy Jared Kushner.

The cabinet meeting has since been cancelled with no new date set, Hebrew media reported Friday.

Most Popular
read more: