Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz has been seeking the support of right-wing voters, but wants it known he’s no free marketeer.
“When I look at my position, you can hear in terms of security I’m a bit to the right,” Gantz said Wednesday at a campaign event in the central city of Kfar Saba.
“Socioeconomically, I hope you could notice that I’m really to the left because I want to look out for the most vulnerable people in society,” he added.
Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, was responding to an audience member who suggested raising taxes on imported goods to boost local industries and create jobs.
“I think you’re really right,” he said in response.
In recent weeks, Gantz has voiced support for US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and the annexation of areas in the West Bank, a position usually identified in Israel with the right.
However, his centrist party has also recently increased its focus on matters unrelated to security like increasing funding for Israel’s public healthcare system, in a bid to differentiate itself from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud.
Netanyahu, Gantz’s chief rival in the March 2 election, has long championed himself as an advocate of free market economic policies.
“There was a closed economy here, a Histadrut economy, an economy that just choked any initiative. But we came, I came, as prime minister and I opened up everything,” Netanyahu said in a video Wednesday.
He also asserted that Blue and White MK Avi Nissenkorn, a former head of the Histadrut labor federation, would be finance minister if Gantz forms the next government.
Blue and White has sought to downplay Nissenkorn’s influence on its economic platform, with top member Gabi Ashkenazi saying last year the party wouldn’t “have a culture of unions.”