Private investigators reportedly sent to collect defamatory material on Gantz
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Private investigators reportedly sent to collect defamatory material on Gantz

Unnamed political figure said behind move aimed at tarnishing reputation of ex-army chief who recently announced his bid for Knesset

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks at the annual World Zionist Conference in Jerusalem, on November 2, 2017 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks at the annual World Zionist Conference in Jerusalem, on November 2, 2017 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A political figure has reportedly employed private investigators to try to collect defamatory material on former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz, who on Thursday registered a political party to run in the Knesset elections set for April, 2019.

Channel 10 News reported on Friday that the investigators began gathering the materials before Gantz registered his party. The political figure who allegedly hired the investigators was unnamed.

In a first media statement put out on behalf of Gantz, his campaign team said Thursday that the party’s official Hebrew name would be Hosen Leyisrael, which translates as “resilience for Israel.” A spokesperson for the party said it would be known in English as the Israel Resilience Party.

Gantz has emerged as a dark horse candidate as the election campaign kicks off, with polls indicating that the center-left Zionist Union and the centrist Yesh Atid party could each only present a real challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party if Gantz were to join their ranks.

On Wednesday, as the Knesset officially dispersed and set elections for April 9, it was reported that Gantz had been holding talks with Moshe Ya’alon, also once the army’s top officer and a former defense minister, with a view to forming a new centrist political alliance in the elections.

The talks were said to be at an “advanced stage” and envision both men as the leaders of their own separate parties that would combine to run in a joint slate for the Knesset, Hadashot television news reported. Gantz would supposedly lead the faction and the rest of the spots on the list would be filled in equal measure by candidates from the two parties.

According to the Hadashot TV report, Gantz is not interested in cooperating with MK Yair Lapid or his Yesh Atid party.

A poll published Tuesday found Likud as the top vote-getter among all parties, with a theoretical party led by Lapid and Gantz seen as the only one managing to pose a serious challenge to Netanyahu’s plans for a fourth straight term.

If Gantz heads his own party, it would finish second among all parties with 14 seats, less than half the Likud’s projected total of 31, the poll found. Yesh Atid would finish behind Gantz’s party with 12 seats.

But if Gantz were to join a Lapid-led Yesh Atid, the opposition party would win 26 seats, according to the poll published by the Walla news site, five behind Likud at 31.

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