IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz did not rule out beginning a political career in an exclusive interview Monday with Channel 10’s Rafi Reshef.
Gantz had never given any indication in the past that he was considering entering politics, as many past IDF chiefs of staff have. However he does come from a left-wing family and has been critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s policies on Iran and the Palestinians.
In the interview, Gantz said he did not want Israel to “constantly have to live by the sword. He said Israel needed to make more of an effort to achieve peace on behalf of Israelis who risk their lives by serving in the IDF.
Gantz spoke about the need for national unity. When told he sounded like a politician, he said the current security situation pained him, and then left his options open.
“If I will be required, I will consider it,” he said regarding entering politics.
Gantz can legally enter politics and challenge Netanyahu for the premiership, despite a law requiring a three-year cooling-off period for former senior security officials, according to a report two weeks ago in The Jerusalem Post’s Hebrew sister publication Ma’ariv Sof Hashavua.
The law, which was passed in 2007, has prevented IDF chiefs of staff and other generals from going straight from the army to the Knesset like many of their predecessors.
It was thought to bar Gantz, who left his post in February, from entering politics until February 2018.
But the report revealed that the law contains loopholes that apply to Gantz. Because a general election was held March 17 after he left his post, he can run in the next general election, even if three years have not passed. Also, because he quit the army and was a civilian before returning to the IDF, his cooling-off period started earlier.
A date is expected to be selected soon for the next Labor Party leadership race.