Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz.
(photo credit: GUY WASSERMAN)
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz is leaving the door open that he could enter politics and challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Gantz has been recruited to run in the next Labor leadership race, whose deadline must be set by Thursday, and also has been mentioned as a possible candidate in Yesh Atid or a party that may be formed ahead of the next election by former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
Gantz spoke Monday night at an anti-Netanyahu event at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba organized by Darkenu, which during the 2015 election was called V15 and worked to organize the grassroots effort to defeat Netanyahu, along with rebel Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, who refused to enter Netanyahu’s coalition when her party joined.
When a student asked why he has not yet entered politics, Gantz first joked by saying he was suffering from the flu, and that it could take him “at least two years to recover.”
But he then responded to the expectations placed on him by those who want Netanyahu replaced.
“I don’t see myself as a messiah of Israel, and I don’t think there aren’t good people in Israeli society,” Gantz said. “The political battlefield is very important. Key decisions about the country’s future are made there. There is no doubt that it has the most impact on Israeli society.
I have not made a decision to enter politics. I have not made a decision to not enter politics.
I know they are trying to color me in various colors, but I am sorry, no painter has hit the target.”
Gantz said Israel’s security does not belong to one end of the political map and is not more dear to one side or the other.
He warned about the “dangers” from extremists on the Right and accused them of trying to politicize the IDF in recent incidents, including the case of a soldier in Hebron who shot to death a neutralized Palestinian terrorist.
Turning to Levy-Abecassis, he told her: “You have more political courage than me.”
Levy-Abecassis told the crowd she did not like the stigma of Right and Left on diplomatic issues, and said her future plans would be guided by her conscience and her socioeconomic agenda.