Gantz takes aim at Netanyahu in first campaign speech

The ex-Israeli army chief promised to restore unity, strength and dignity to the Jewish state, blasting the sitting prime minister without mentioning Netanyahu directly.

By World Israel News Staff

Former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz officially launched his political campaign on Tuesday evening with a wide-ranging address in front of a supportive crowd.

While Gantz did not mince words, he delivered his primary attacks on Benjamin Netanyahu without actually saying the current Israeli prime minister’s name.

Specifically, Gantz declared that he would not sit in a Knesset coalition with Netanyahu if he is indicted in any of the ongoing corruption cases that are currently being pursued.

Gantz claimed that Israelis on the right and left sides of the political spectrum feel “embarrassed” by Israeli leadership’s behavior, promising to unite the country.

Among Gantz’s thinly-veiled barbs aimed at Netanyahu was his comment that if he were elected, there wouldn’t be any “attacks on the chief of staff, head of police and attorney general,” which seemed to be a reference to Netanyahu’s clashes with former head of police Roni Alsheikh and current attorney general Avichai Mandelblit.

In addition to his comments aimed at Netanyahu, Gantz also stressed his vision for Israel’s security and his commitment to “seek[ing] peace” and “regional change.” Gantz mentioned “strengthen[ing] the settlement blocs and Golan,” locations he claimed Israel “won’t ever leave.”

Gantz also made reference to Ahmed Jabari, a former Hamas military leader who was killed in Gaza on Gantz’s watch as IDF chief.

He added, “The Jordan Valley is our border, but we won’t let millions of Palestinians outside the fence endanger our identity as a Jewish state,” declaring that Jerusalem will remain Israel’s “united capital.”

Following Gantz’s speech, the crowd was addressed by former IDF chief of staff Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon, with whom Gantz announced a political alliance shortly before the campaign event began.

Similar to Gantz, Ya’alon referenced his military career and framed the campaign in terms of putting Israel back on the right path.

“Together we’re taking responsibility . . . [for] the country’s future, character and values. It’s a battle for our home, and we have no choice but to win,” Ya’alon declared.

As he left the event, the Times of Israel asked Ya’alon if he supported a Palestinian two-states-for-two-peoples peace deal, to which he responded, “Of course not.”

Current polls show Gantz’s newly formed center-left party, “Israel Resilience,” placing second in the April 9 elections, with Netanyahu’s Likud party taking first. Whether Gantz would opt, in this scenario, for a top cabinet position in a Netanyahu-led coalition or challenge the prime minister as opposition leader remains to be seen.