Likud reportedly working to nix rotation agreement with Benny Gantz, have him serve instead as president.
Lawmakers from the Likud party are working to cancel the power-sharing agreement with the Blue and White party, with the goal of having Defense Minister Benny Gantz elected as President of Israel, rather than rotate in as prime minister.
Following the indecisive Knesset election in March, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz signed a deal for the formation of a unity government, with Netanyahu serving as premier for the first 18 months, before yielding the position to Gantz for a subsequent 18 months.
Gantz, who in the interim serves both as Defense Minister and alternate prime minister, was guaranteed parity in the government and as premier, even though his Blue and White party brought in only 16 MKs into the government, compared to 36 from the Likud.
With recent polls showing the Likud surging to more than forty seats while Blue and White is projected to fall to roughly 10-12, some Likud officials are pushing to cancel the rotational agreement, and instead have Gantz elected as president of Israel and replace incumbent President Reuven Rivlin next year.
The President of Israel is elected by the Knesset in a secret ballot once every seven years. The next election is set for the summer of 2021, prior to Gantz’s term as prime minister.
According to a report by Yediot Aharonot, Likud officials pushing for the change say the chances of Gantz actually rotating in as prime minister are “small to none”, leading to “creative ideas” about a face-saving alternative for the Defense Minister.
One Likud minister, noting the recent polls, said Gantz’s options are limited, given his likely defeat if the government splits and new elections are called.
Under the proposal now being pushed by Likud lawmakers, Gantz would be nominated as the coalition’s candidate for the presidency in 2021, and after being elected would turn over the Defense Ministry portfolio to Gabi Ashkenazi (Blue and White), who currently serves as Foreign Minister.
Supporters of the plan say that Gantz will likely agree to the offer, arguing that a rejection of the plan would lead to new elections and “political suicide” for Gantz.