Blue and White co-chair Benny Gantz delivers a speech, March 18th, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu served the government well until now, but his time is up," leader of the Blue and White party Benny Gantz said in an interview to Kan radio station on Sunday.
Netanyahu says you have no political experience, so why should people vote for you?
"It is true that I did not serve in the Knesset, because there is a cooling period of four years in which I could not go into politics. But I did serve as the IDF attache in New York, I went to the White House, I spoke in the Knesset, I represented Israel abroad many times before. Netanyahu's time is up, and people should stop using the excuse that there is no one who can replace him."People say that the 2014 Israel–Gaza conflict that you led was a disaster.
"The operation was very successful. We achieved what we wanted, there is a reason why for three and a half years after the operation it was quiet in the South. The problem is that Netanyahu did not use the advantage and goals achieved, and he let the situation escalate again.
Some say Netanyahu could not stand the pressure in the cabinet meetings.
"Netanyahu had his rough days just like everyone else did during the operation, but he performed very well. I do not wish to slander his name, I think Netanyahu ran the country well but his time is up."
How will you solve the conflict with Gaza?
"We need to go back to pinpointed attacks on Hamas leaders. We need aerial strikes, we need to strike Hamas hard and restore the deterrence. Paying Hamas for protection is not the answer."
Do you support a two-state solution?
"People always ask this question and it is wrong to ask. A two-state solution cannot be promised without having negotiations first. It is only one scenario that can arise from tackling the issue. I support Israel to be a Democratic, Jewish and safe country. Israel's interest is all I care about. We will first try to hold negotiations and push for security agreements that will benefit Israel."
Netanyahu claims you supported the Iran nuclear deal.
"Yet another lie that Netanyahu spreads. The nuclear deal was signed months after I no longer served as IDF chief of staff so nobody even considered or asked for my opinion. Yes the deal had some positive aspects to it but it was executed poorly."
If you win the elections and the President tasks you with forming a government, who will you form a coalition with?
"I will call on parties from the left and right, so long as they are not radical, to realize the age of Netanyahu is over. I am not willing to form a coalition with parties who speak out against Israel, both from Left and Right."
You cannot form a coalition with the Haredi parties as you cannot represent them, will you form a government with the Arab parties in the case?
"We are not enemies of the Haredi community. We represent every single citizen in Israel. I can represent the people without the party leaders. I said I am not going to form a coalition with parties that speak out against Israel, and the Arab parties' leaders did that, I can represent their voters without them."
Will you sit in a government with Netanyahu? Will you cancel your rotation deal with Lapid if it gets you more votes?
"Unfortunately Netanyahu faces legal charges against him, so I will not sit with him but I wish him the best of luck in his legal defense. We are already leading the polls and we are going to win. We will not cancel our rotation deal."
Is there anything positive you can say about Netanyahu?
"Netanyahu is a Zionist, I cherish him and know him well. He served the country faithfully. Unfortunately he associated himself with the wrong people and started being driven out of personal economic interests, so his time is up."
For conclusion, what is the first thing you intend to do if you were to become prime minister?
"There are two things I will do. First, I will immediately form a cabinet tasked with bringing national reconciliation. Enough with the infighting. Second, I will limit the tenure of the prime minister."
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