Blue and White leader Benny Gantz indicated on Thursday that he could recommend Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid to President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, despite their personal disputes over the past year.
Speaking at a Tel Aviv International Salon event co-sponsored by The Jerusalem Post, Gantz promised not to take into account his past fights with Lapid, whom he recently said “hates people.”
He said he disagrees on diplomatic issues with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Yamina head Naftali Bennett, and on legal issues with New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar.
“I will support whoever shows me he can form a coalition and principles we agree on,” Gantz said. “If Lapid will be able to create a coalition, our principles are closer on key aspects. The personal issues with him are stronger than with others, but I value the mission of serving the country and not serving someone, so I will put the country first when it comes to that issue.”
Gantz said he was sure his Blue and White party would surmount the 3.25% electoral threshold, predicting seven or eight seats for the party.
Asked about his experiences in politics compared to his military career, Gantz said: “In the battlefield, if you kill your enemies, they die. In the political arena if you finish someone they keep coming back all the time. It’s a never-ending story.”
Gantz said he was not upset that security issues have not played a more senior role in the campaign, and that as defense minister, he took it as a compliment.
“That’s what happens when you do your job well,” he said. “I kept it quiet, with no serious crisis. I am a victim of my own success in many ways, but I am happy to be one.”
Gantz said the assassination of Iranian scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last year – attributed to Israel – would help prevent Iran’s nuclear advancement, but he lamented other progress by Iran.
“The Iranians have gained knowledge that cannot be taken away,” he said. “They have moved forward in many aspects. They fought back at the US during the Trump administration. They have pre-negotiations achievements that they can give up when the talks start.”
He said his red lines for a new deal with Iran included “any kind of inspection, anytime, anywhere, and no [sunset clause for the] termination of the agreement.”
If he returns to the Knesset, Gantz vowed to do more to heal relations with progressive American Jews. He also praised immigrants to Israel from English-speaking countries.