Gantz to break silence at Israel Resilience campaign launch next week
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Gantz to break silence at Israel Resilience campaign launch next week

Laconic ex-army chief will make first public address since announcing run; is expected to finally divulge his positions on key issues

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz arrives at a ceremony for incoming chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, at the IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv, on January 15, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/ Flash90)
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz arrives at a ceremony for incoming chief of staff Aviv Kohavi, at the IDF Headquarters in Tel Aviv, on January 15, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/ Flash90)

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz will break his months of near-silence next week at the campaign launch of his Israel Resilience party, where he is expected to outline his still-unknown positions on the key issues he will focus on, ahead of the April 9 election.

The party said in a statement that the event will take place on Tuesday evening, at the Tel Aviv Convention Center, a popular location for large political events.

While the statement did not specify that Gantz would indeed be addressing the crowd, a poster for the event released by the party says simply “Gantz speaks.” A spokesman for the party later confirmed that the laconic ex-general would “obviously” be delivering the keynote speech.

Gantz is considered one of the only possible threats to a Benjamin Netanyahu victory, despite his party still polling well behind the prime minister’s Likud. But much of the country has been trying to figure out where Gantz stands on issues from peace and security to housing and welfare.

Campaign poster for Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party promising he will speak at a launch event on January 29, 2019. (Israel Resiliance)

In one of the first indications of his political leanings, Gantz on Sunday released a series of campaign videos positioning himself firmly in the center with a tough on terror message, but also a willingness to try and make peace.

One video, part of a series titled, “Only the strong survive,” took credit for the IDF’s destruction of 6,231 Hamas targets in the 2014 Gaza war under Gantz’s command, boasting that “parts of Gaza were sent back to the Stone Age.”

Despite the militaristic nature of the videos, Gantz also released a separate video saying Israel needed to seriously pursue peace with the Palestinians.

“It’s not shameful to be striving for peace,” he said in the video, which also featured images of then-prime minister Menachem Begin holding peace talks with Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in the 1970s, as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting PLO leader Yasser Arafat in the 1990s.

“In another 25 years, do we still want to be sending our children off to fight? No,” Gantz said. “What will we tell them? That we didn’t do anything? That we didn’t try?

“I can’t accept that there will be an entire generation here without hope,” he said. “It can be different here.”

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz seen with members of the Druze community and activists outside his home in Rosh HaAyin, during a protest against the ‘Jewish Nation-State law,’ January 14, 2019. (Flash90)

Gantz formally launched his Israel Resilience party late last month, but has been largely mum on his positions. Last week, he unveiled his party’s slogan, “Israel before all,” as well as distancing himself from the Likud party by vowing to “fix” the controversial nation-state law to help the Druze community.

He told Druze activists outside his home in Rosh Ha’ayin that Israel said that amending the law would “express the connection [between the Druze community and the State of Israel], a deep and unbreakable connection not only in battle, but also in life. We have a blood pact, but more than that, we have a life alliance.”

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