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Trapped by Netanyahu, Gantz loses popularity

Supporters of Blue and White leader Benny Gantz have not forgiven him for joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government and their disappointment could mean the end of his political career.
Israeli Alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting of the new government at Chagall State Hall in the Knesset (Israeli parliament) in Jerusalem on May 24, 2020. (Photo by ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by ABIR SULTAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The prevailing wisdom among many Israelis, politicians and pundits has it that Defense Minister Benny Gantz, chair of the Blue and White Party, is politically finished. Barely seven weeks after he was accorded the title of alternate prime minister, Gantz’ center-left camp is shopping for an alternative to the alternate.

A poll conducted this week gives Gantz’ party nine Knesset seats — compared with the 33 or more that voters gave it in three consecutive elections in 2019 and 2020. True, Gantz ran in them at the head of a much bigger party that included the Yesh Atid and Telem factions before they split from him when he joined the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late April. Nevertheless, nine seats are still only half the number his party currently controls in the legislature. People in his camp are asking not whether Gantz is finished, but how much longer he can last in his position. Another bet is on how long it will be before his party sinks into oblivion as did the centrist Kadima Party of Tzipi Livni and Shaul Mofaz or even the center-left Labor party, which took its final breath this past winter.

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