Gantz: I would have let Omar and Tlaib into Israel

Blue and White leader says there is room for everyone at the Western Wall.

Benny Gantz has awoken from his post-election slumber. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Benny Gantz has awoken from his post-election slumber.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
 Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib should have been allowed into Israel, Blue and White candidate for prime minister Benny Gantz said Monday.
“I think it was a mistake not to let [Omar and Tlaib] in, because we’re strong enough to let people see with their own eyes,” Gantz said in English at a Tel Aviv International Salon event. “If you’re not a Saudi [billionaire] the best place to be an Arab in the Middle East is Israel, and the second-best is the West Bank.”
Gantz said that “anyone who cooperates with BDS is operating against Israel and it is a form of antisemitism.”
Asked if he would meet with UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn should he become prime minister, Gantz said that it is a difficult question and he would do what is best for Israel, but that he will try not to have dealings with racists.
Gantz also called to implement a compromise for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall.
“The Western Wall is long enough to have us all along it, whether you’re Orthodox, Conservative and Reform,” he said.
Gantz said: “I don’t want to separate religion and state, I want to settle it. We cannot separate Judaism from the Jewish State; we have to decide how to live with it.”
Greater consensus needs to be reached on issues of religion and state, like the status of Shabbat, he added.
As for his statements that he would form a government without haredim, he said “it’s important to be able to sit together and form a government of the majority that serves everyone, and not a government of minorities that takes care of itself.”
Defending himself from accusations of being anti-religious, Gantz described himself as between secular and traditional, recounting that he attended Orthodox schools for several years and that he regularly attends synagogue.
The Blue and White leader also sharply criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for his press conference earlier Monday about Iran’s nuclear aspirations.
“I don’t think we should instrumentalize those aspects into our political agenda, and that is exactly what Netanyahu did today,” he stated. “It did nothing strategically and only served himself.”
Gantz called for Israel to try to make peace with the Palestinians.
“It’s important to reach an agreement with the Palestinians so we can look into our children’s eyes and say we did everything in our capacity to bring peace to this region,” he said.
Blue and White’s plan includes staying in the Jordan Valley for security reasons, retaining the bulk of the settlements, and not dividing Jerusalem, he said.