Amid the corruption allegations against current Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s former military chief Benny Gantz has emerged as one of the most serious contenders for the post of Prime Minister. Gantz, who was Israel’s 20th military chief (2011-2015) launched his campaign for prime ministerial candidature on Tuesday. He made a broad appeal to the public with the message of unity at home, a search for peace and a tough line against the country’s many enemies.
He also criticized Netanyahu for running a decade long regime based on “incitement, subversion and hatred” as well as misusing power to conceal his corruption scandals.
In his maiden rally, he said,” “We all need a government that solves our real problems and is not preoccupied with itself…I thank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his service for 10 years. We will take it from here.”
His speech displayed an open attitude towards all religions and emphasised on belonging to neither right wing or left wing. His speech was emotional and did strike a chord among people but was deemed vague.
Netanyahu took to Twitter to take a jab at Gantz’s speech. He said, “Whoever says they are not right and not left — is left.”
Gantz also mentioned taking tough action against Iran and Israel, while adopting a different approach towards Palestinians. He said, “The government I lead will strive toward peace and will not miss an opportunity to create a regional change.”
In his otherwise objective and elaborate speech, Gantz did not mention about the 50-day war operation that he led in Gaza to fight against Hamas militants. That military strike is said to have killed over 2,000 Palestinians and caused widespread destruction.
The 59-year old political newcomer is gaining popularity among public and political analysts. Some of the pre-poll surveys to the April 9 election predict that there are high chances of him getting the prime minister’s office, while most show him as running second to Netanyahu. Even that way, Gantz would gain a significant position for either a top Cabinet post in a Netanyahu-led coalition or as a high-profile opposition leader.