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Netanyahu’s target: to isolate coronavirus, Benny Gantz

On the backdrop of internal party disagreements, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz must make a decision on whether to join a Netanyahu unity government.
Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz stands next to his party co-leaders Moshe Yaalon, Yair Lapid and Gaby Ashkenazi as he speaks to supporters following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's election at the party's headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel March 3, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC20CF9OD5IB

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is conducting a two-pronged campaign. He is seeking to isolate, contain and eliminate the novel coronavirus spreading throughout the country, at the same time making cynical use of the pandemic in an effort to impose the same fate on his political rival, Blue and White Chair Benny Gantz.

Netanyahu’s overriding goal is to dismantle the Gantz-led bloc of parties that coalesced against him following the March 2 elections, which accounted for 62 seats in the 120-member Knesset (although the bloc shrank to 61 after the desertion by Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abekasis). At this stage, Netanyahu appears to be advancing toward his goal, at least the political one. Blue and White, which only recently celebrated its first anniversary, is nearer than ever to being dismantled or splitting in two. One group would consist of the two former army chiefs, Gantz and Gabi Ashkenazi, who are willing to join a power-sharing unity government with Netanyahu as premier for the first part of its term, followed by Gantz. The other group would include the other two party seniors, Yair Lapid and former army chief Moshe Ya’alon. Neither is willing to join Netanyahu “for even a minute.”

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