(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is prepared to serve in a government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu until an indictment that is expected to be a year away, he said in taped conversations revealed Sunday by Channel 13.
In the conversation, Gantz said that he would tell Netanyahu that the condition for joining the government would be that right-wing parties would be left out of the coalition and that the prime minister suspend himself for two months if he goes on trial.
“I cannot sit with him after he is indicted after the hearing,” he said on the tape. “That would be completely crazy. Let’s say he wins the election and a week later [US President Donald] Trump reveals his plan and the people of Israel look at Benny Gantz and say help Netanyahu, because if not, [National Union leader Bezalel] Smotrich will kill the last chance [for peace].”
His statement contradicts a promise that he made the night that Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict the prime minister pending a hearing, to not join a government led by Netanyahu. This was the third time in the past month that tapes were revealed of Gantz saying things that were potentially harmful to his campaign. Channel 12 reported that he has asked the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) to check if the Mossad is behind the leaks.
Netanyahu responded by pleading with his Blue and White opponent: “Don’t drag the Mossad into politics. They have no way of defending themselves.”
At a Tel Aviv press conference with Gantz, his number two, Yair Lapid, said the campaign was not looking for a mole leaking the conversations, “because we have nothing to hide.”
At the press conference, Blue and White unveiled a new campaign ad featuring Netanyahu promising to not serve more than two terms. In the video, which was from 1997, Netanyahu said that “what is not accomplished in the first term, could be done in the second but more than that is not needed.”
“As usual, he didn’t keep his word,” Gantz said. “I will make two terms the law, because I saw what happened to Bibi over the years, stopped helping the country and dealing only with his political survival.”
Gantz, who served as IDF chief of staff under Netanyahu, said his 13 years in office had changed him.
“Instead of promoting brotherhood, he is promoting civil war, and from this we must be careful,” he said. “Enough is enough.”
A Midgam poll broadcast on Channel 12 Sunday night found that Blue and White is leading Likud 32 seats to 28.
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