Likud pounces after Gantz pledges to carry out left-wing agenda

Netanyahu says the Blue and White leader’s comments prove he intends to set up a left-wing government.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Blue and White head Benny Gantz told Israel’s Channel 13 in an interview on Sunday that if people want left-wing policies, they should vote for him, earning a scathing rebuke from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gantz was responding to charges by Ehud Barak of the left-wing Democratic Union party that he is only interested in forming a unity government with the Likud.

Gantz said, “I say to Ehud Barak – I have to be prime minister for the Democratic Union and Labor party’s agenda to be realized.”

He said he would conduct a peace process with the Palestinians, ranked high on the Left’s order of priorities.

“We have a supreme moral duty to try for peace,” he said. “The opposite of peace could be the need for war, and our children could pay the price with their lives. If we don’t make a supreme effort, we’ll lose internal and global legitimacy.”

In short order, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted, “If you don’t go out and vote for [Likud], we’ll get a left-wing government with the Arab parties.”

Netanyahu has consistently painted Blue and White as a left-wing party, both in the April elections and during the current campaign. Blue and White has portrayed itself as “centrist” in order to appeal to the most voters.

Gantz’s remarks seem to throw this claim into doubt as the former chief of staff tries to siphon off votes from smaller, left-wing parties. His strategy mirrors that of Netanyahu, who is attempting to enlarge his party at the expense of smaller parties to his right.

Although Netanyahu says a Gantz victory will result in a left-wing and Arab government, no Arab party has joined a government in the state’s history.

Even if the Arab Joint List were to join a Gantz-led coalition, it would not have the 61 mandates necessary to form a government