In first speech Tuesday, Gantz won’t rule out coalition with Netanyahu – report
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Gantz jingle: 'There is no more right or left, just Israel'

In first speech Tuesday, Gantz won’t rule out coalition with Netanyahu – report

Israel Resilience chief reportedly to say government is ‘corrupt, divisive,’ but won’t reject PM so long as he hasn’t been indicted; party says leaks based on non-approved draft

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

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, at the funeral of Israel Prize winner Zvika Levi in Kibbutz Yifat, northern Israel, December 31, 2018. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, at the funeral of Israel Prize winner Zvika Levi in Kibbutz Yifat, northern Israel, December 31, 2018. (Anat Hermony/Flash90)

In his first campaign speech, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz will say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current government is “bad, corrupt and divisive,” and announce his intention to replace him, according to TV reports Monday.

Gantz will break his months of near-silence on Tuesday evening at the campaign launch of his Israel Resilience party, where he is expected to outline his still-unknown positions and the key issues he will focus on, ahead of the April 9 election.

Channel 13 news reported that, as expected, Gantz will state his intention to win the premiership at the polls.

Channel 12 news, which obtained a recent draft of Gantz’s speech, said the fresh politician will vow not to sit in a government whose head has been indicted. Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly set to announce in February plans to indict Netanyahu, pending a hearing; however, it is believed that it may be another year before a final indictment is filed, and Gantz apparently will not rule out working with Netanyahu during that period, the report said.

He will also reportedly say that Israel “is not a kingdom, and has no royal family, a king or a queen” — an apparent reference to Netanyahu’s lengthy hold on power, as well as the increasing involvement of his wife, Sara, in matters of state.

“Lengthy rule leads to corruption,” he will say, and will promise to limit the prime ministership to two terms, Channel 12 said.

A spokesperson for Israel Resilience said that Monday’s reports were based on one of several drafts for the speech.

“One of the drafts that wasn’t approved was obtained by several media outlets,” the spokesperson said. “Tomorrow at 8 p.m., Israeli citizens are welcome to tune in and watch the real speech.”

The Israel Resilience party on Monday released its election campaign jingle, which repeatedly promises that “There is no more right or left, just Israel — before all else.”

Other lyrics speak of “the power of togetherness” and vow to “put everything aside and think like patriots.”

Gantz is considered one of the only possible threats to a 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 last 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. Earlier in January, 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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