Blue and White Chairman MK Benny Gantz met with a group of religious Zionist rabbis. The meeting was held at the home of MK Yehiel Tropper of the party, who was also the facilitator of the entire event, and with whom Arutz Sheva spoke.
At the outset, MK Tropper clarified that according to advance agreements with the rabbis, the content of the meeting would remain discreet and not be publicized, but it may be noted that the conversation took about two hours and its importance lies in the very existence of dialogue between the parties.
"It wasn't a meeting to request votes, but a deep encounter between people who understood there's a joint responsibility to create connections. Things came up like issues of conversion, Shabbat, kashrut, etc., but not only issues of religious Zionism. By virtue of the wider significance of religious Zionism, both political issues and issues of connection with Israeli society emerged. There was significant discussion. Many things were agreed upon and some were not. The most significant thing was agreement on the need to continue to talk and communicate."
In this spirit, MK Tropper emphasizes that Benny Gantz's vision is not only to strive for a unity government, but to have as broad a government as possible. "It is unclear how much of this will depend on the results and there are many questions, but there's an understanding that within a divided society, Netanyahu is leading a discourse of incitement and division. After the elections, these wounds must be healed and the way to heal is first of all as broad a government as possible."
And since Blue and White repeatedly declare a desire to form a government with the Likud, as long as Netanyahu does not head it, we asked MK Tropper if it would be wrong not to veto Netanyahu when he represents significant segments of the Israeli public.
"We don't determine who will head the Likud, but we are saying a simple moral statement, the man who wounded is not the man who will heal. Netanyahu has great responsibility for the discourse of division and infighting, and the other thing is that we have a moral problem with someone who has serious suspicions about him. I believe that religious Zionism shouldn't be defending him like Smotrich, but rather to object to this path and not to excuse things because he will preserve the Land of Israel. Netanyahu's not the only one who will preserve the Land of Israel, religious Zionism should express a value statement that says that it's difficult for us with a leader who does for his house at the expense of the State of Israel. A leader who sends us to elections because he says either me or no one."
What about Ehud Barak and his statements? Aren't they divisive enough to make it difficult to see him as a coalition partner? "It is very difficult for me and I am opposed to Barak's discourse, which is Netanyahu's mirror image, in whose discourse they don't achieve anything good for Israeli society."
And what about Barak's behavioral problems? Here, Tropper finds a difference between Netanyahu's behavior and that of Barak, and he explains: "Netanyahu is suspected of criminal activity and indictments are pending against him subject to hearing, and Barak is not suspected of criminal activity, and I don't want to suspect innocents. I have a problem with his discourse and his conduct and his choice to live in places where he loves, but it's still not criminal, so it's not in the same place yet."
We also asked Trooper about the discourse that Yair Lapid, his party's leader, brought to the public arena in attacks on the haredi public and part of the religious public, and Tropper replies: "It's possible that Lapid and I would have chosen different words, but an aggressive tone even if it's not my style isn't fundamentally bad. What is bad is a tone of hatred. We all have the responsibility and we try to meet this responsibility, so that was the meeting. We all have a responsibility to create collaborations and connections without blurring the differences."
On the chances that coalition talks between Gantz and religious Zionism could arise following the dialogue with the rabbis and perhaps similar meetings, Tropper says: "I believe that when Gantz receives the mandate from the President, he'll succeed in forming a government. We're all speculating because of Netanyahu's games, but when the mandate comes, people will also look for connections on the other side. The people have lost their minds and will not want to go to elections for a third time and will understand that they will have to move a little from their positions in order to create a great connection for the State of Israel."