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Ashkenazi: ‘I spoke with most FMs in Mideast countries we’ll have ties with’

Outgoing foreign minister, ex-Blue and White deputy leader says he may yet return to politics, believes Netanyahu now sorry for not honoring rotation agreement with Gantz

Outgoing foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks at a ceremony welcoming his replacement, Yair Lapid, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Flash90)
Outgoing foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi speaks at a ceremony welcoming his replacement, Yair Lapid, at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on June 14, 2021. (Flash90)

Days after leaving office, former foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Saturday that during his year-long term, he spoke with counterparts in most countries in the Middle East — including those Israel doesn’t have official ties with.

Ashkenazi refused to detail which countries in the Middle East he spoke to, in an interview with Channel 12 news on Saturday.

“I can tell you, without going into details, I spoke with most foreign ministers in the Middle East, those who we will have relations with,” he said.

The former deputy leader of Blue and White is taking a break from politics, after deciding not to run on Blue and White’s slate in the March elections.

He said the Abraham Accords, the series of normalization agreements reached last year with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, “aren’t an alternative to the strategic agreements with Egypt and Jordan.”

Ashkenazi also commented on current politics and the formation of a new government this week that saw Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu replaced as premier by Naftali Bennett, after 12 consecutive years as prime minister.

“In my opinion, Netanyahu is the true architect of the new government,” he said, “and he is sorry he didn’t fulfill the [rotation] deal” with Gantz that would have seen the Blue and White leader become premier this coming November and Netanyahu take the title of alternate prime minister.

Netanyahu’s efforts to renege on that deal are seen as the main reason the Netanyahu-Gantz government fell and Israel held yet another national vote in March, its fourth in two years.

Ashkenazi said that Bennett could be a good prime minister “if he is able to surround himself with professionals, and listens and acts according to what is good and right for Israel.”

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset on June 13, 2021 (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

He told the network he has no ill feelings over his short political career — so far.

“I came, and I do not regret the roller coaster of the last two and a half years,” he said.

“I’m on a break,” he said but “I do not rule out returning to politics. I have contributed my share to Blue and White and I hope the country gets back on track.”

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