Benny Gantz’s Tactical Waiting Game Is Too Clever by Half

The leaders of Kahol Lavan have apparently embraced the teachings of Niccolo Machiavelli, the godfather of political manipulation, as well as the biblical injunction to “wage war with trickery.” Kahol Lavan’s schemers surmise that their prospects will improve if President Reuven Rivlin gives Benjamin Netanyahu the first crack at forming a new government while Benny Gantz patiently awaits his turn – and his inevitable victory.

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The decision, of course, is not theirs but Rivlin’s to make. Which is why Gantz and Co. were distraught when it seemed that the 13-member Joint List’s dramatic endorsement would give Gantz a 57-55 advantage over Netanyahu and, coupled with Kahol Lavin’s bigger size, turn Gantz into Rivlin’s default option.

– Haaretz Weekly Ep. 41

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 41Haaretz

For the same reason Kahol Lavan strategists breathed a collective sigh of relief when the three representatives of the ultra-nationalist Balad contingent dissociated themselves from the Joint List’s recommendation and gave the numerical advantage back to Netanyahu, if only by a hair’s breadth of 55-54. Theoretically, Kahol Lavan’s waiting game does grant them important tactical benefits. Whoever is second in line to form a government will have a clear psychological edge over the first: The Sword of Damocles of yet another election campaign, the third this year, will inevitably shake the confidence and possibly dismantle their rival’s political bloc.

>> Read more: Why the Arab alliance's endorsement of Gantz is a big deal | Analysis ■ Joint List reps cross the Rubicon to endorse Gantz – who blanches in return | Analysis

Netanyahu’s widely-expected failure to form a government could very well spark an internal revolution in Likud that would precipitate his downfall, whether he goes willingly or by force, and thus pave the way for the broad-based government that Gantz aspires to head.