‘Kahanist,’ ‘Hamas wet dream’: Gantz and Bennett trade insults
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‘Kahanist,’ ‘Hamas wet dream’: Gantz and Bennett trade insults

Blue and White party head slams New Right leader, saying he likened Supreme Court to terror group

New Right party leader Naftali Bennett (right) and Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party (composite image: Flash90)
New Right party leader Naftali Bennett (right) and Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party (composite image: Flash90)

New Right party leader Naftali Bennett on Wednesday hit back at Benny Gantz after the latter called him a “Kahanist,” saying Hamas members would vote for the Blue and White party chief.

“Gantz is the wet dream of Hamas members, and if Hamas had the right to vote, they would vote for Benny Gantz, the general of hesitation,” said Bennett, the education minister.

Bennett has repeatedly charged that Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, and his party ally Moshe Ya’alon, who was defense minister at the time, endangered Israel with their strategy during the 2014 Gaza war.

The education minister also repeated the claim that Gantz knowingly endangered the lives of soldiers under his command, saying Gantz was guilty of “fake morality,” Channel 12 reported.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz visits near the border with the Gaza Strip, on July 26, 2014. (IDF Spokesperson/Flash90)

The comment referred to a 2015 speech by Gantz in which he said he took a risk during the 2014 war in order to prevent the slaughter of Palestinian civilians during a specific operation.

The war of words began after Bennett gave a speech on Tuesday in which he argued that decisions made by the Supreme Court were endangering Israel’s security and that the court must be restrained if Hamas is to be defeated.

“The judicial system tied the hands of IDF soldiers,” Bennett told The Marker conference. “They screwed everything up and turned terrorists into heroes.”

“We have to defeat Hamas and restrain the High Court of Justice,” he said.

“The Supreme Court under [its former president] Aharon Barak thinks our entire life can be legislated and that everything can be discussed. They intervene day and night in government decisions in which they do not bear responsibility. The High Court judges should judge, the government should govern and the IDF should win.”

Bennett has in the past charged that IDF soldiers are too concerned about the legalities of their actions to be able to effectively fight Israel’s enemies.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett speaking at a New Right party press conference in Tel Aviv on February 7, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Gantz responded to Bennett’s statement, tweeting: “An education minister who compares Hamas to the High Court cannot remain in office for another minute. They don’t even have to bring the Kahanists into the Knesset, they themselves are [Kahanist].”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month persuaded Bennett’s former party, the Jewish Home, to merge with Otzma Yehudit (“Jewish Power”) — which is led by former National Union MK Michael Ben Ari and far-right activists Itamar Ben Gvir, Baruch Marzel and Bentzi Gopstein.

Otzma Yehudit is the spiritual godchild of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach party, which was banned from the Knesset under a Basic Law outlawing incitement to violence and later exiled entirely in Israel. Kahane was the American immigrant founder of the militant Jewish Defense League, who before his assassination in 1990 promoted the immediate annexation of disputed territories and the expulsion of Arabs from the West Bank.

Although recent polls have indicated that the new centrist Blue and White slate will win more seats than Likud, it is still likely to struggle to cobble together a majority coalition of 61 out of 120 Knesset seats. Netanyahu, leading the Likud party, may be better positioned to form a government but would need to rely on various smaller right-wing parties, giving them additional clout in coalition talks.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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