Blue and White leader Benny Gantz said Monday that if he becomes prime minister after next month’s elections, he would work to mend ties with the Democratic Party in the United States.
The former army chief of staff accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from US President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.
Netanyahu has heavily emphasized his relationship with Trump in the past year of electioneering, and has drawn criticism for alienating Democrats in the process.
Last month both Gantz and Netanyahu met with Trump at the White House ahead of the unveiling of the US president’s Mideast proposal.
The two also met with Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranked Democrat in the US, while she was in Jerusalem last month for the 5th World Holocaust Forum.
Both Gantz and Netanyahu have called for bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.
Gantz said it was “very important that we emphasize the importance of bipartisan relationship between Israel and the United States.”
“We don’t care if the American president is a Republican or Democrat,” Gantz said. “If he is a good president for the United States,” then that person would be a “good president for the State of Israel as well.”
Gantz and his running mate Yair Lapid addressed a crowd of around 1,000 mostly English speakers at an event in Tel Aviv. Lapid said that Israel faces the task of a “rehabilitation” of ties with the Democrats and with American Jewry in general.
Gantz is trying to unseat Netanyahu in the March 2 vote — Israel’s third parliamentary vote inside 12 months, after two elections in 2019 failed to yield a conclusive result. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, seeks reelection having been indicted on corruption charges. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Pre-election polls indicate that neither Gantz nor Netanyahu has a clear path to a parliamentary majority.
A poll released Monday showed Gantz’s Blue and White increasing its edge over Netanyahu’s Likud, while another survey showed the gap between the two largest parties closing. Both polls predicted continued deadlock.