Likud opens frontal assault on former general, now top challenger

The Likud Party is on the attack against former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, leader of the new Israel Resilience Party.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

The Likud Party, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is looking to lower the public’s esteem for former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, the founder of “Israel Resilience,” a new centrist party that has enjoyed remarkable popularity out of the starting gates, consistently finishing second only to the Likud.

Two Dec. 4 newspaper polls show Israel Resilience winning 12 seats in the Knesset elections scheduled for April 9.

Seeing Gantz as a threat, Likud ministers have opened a two-pronged attack on the former chief of staff, attempting to undermine his military service and criticizing him for not revealing his position on any issues.

“It’s no secret that Benny Gantz was never chosen to any position where he was the first choice, he was always the fallback guy,” said the Likud’s Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev, on Sunday.

On radio station Kan Bet, Likud MK Ofir Akunis, minister of science and technology, refused to comment on Gantz’s military service when pressed by interviewers, but said that Gantz couldn’t remain quiet for much longer if he wanted to be taken seriously as a candidate.

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Akunis said that Gantz was staying silent for a reason, in order to avoid the mistake of Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who announced his entry into politics in 1999 as a former IDF chief of staff and initially enjoyed great popularity, until he revealed his left-wing political positions, after which his popularity plummeted.

Newly minted Likud member Yoav Galant, a former high-ranking IDF officer who was the first choice for chief of staff but whose candidacy was rejected which opened the way for Gantz,, attacked Gantz both on his army career and his ongoing silence.

“I think he knows why he’s being silent,” Galant said. “I also know why he’s being silent and thousands of officers who served under our command know why he’s being silent. When you have nothing to say, you don’t talk.”

Gantz’s party responded to the criticism, saying: “The people of Israel need a different discourse, a dignified and different leadership.”