Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz responded on Monday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s depiction of him as a leftist, accusing Netanyahu of panicking in the face of polls that show Blue and White leading Likud.
“Netanyahu continues inciting and lying,” Blue and White said in a statement following Netanyahu’s address to Likud activists on Monday night. “He is willing to say anything to distract from his investigations and indictments. He knows that in a year, he will be going to trial. He knows his time is up.”
Reacting to accusations from Netanyahu and other Likud leaders that he intends to build a coalition with the Hadash-Ta’al list that is co-chaired by MK Ahmed Tibi, Gantz said: “Those who are nosediving in the polls are making it up that we will sit with Tibi. It’s not correct.”
The Likud responded that Blue and White cannot build a coalition without relying on a majority that includes the Arab parties.
“Gantz has ruled out sitting in a government with Netanyahu, so it is simple math: Either Bibi or Tibi, and that is what the election is about,” the Likud said.
Asked whether he would be willing to become the first minister from an Arab party if Gantz defeated Netanyahu, Tibi texted The Jerusalem Post: “Nooooo.”
Blue and White candidates Yoaz Hendel, Chili Tropper and Ofer Shelah have been working on a joint platform for their Telem, Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid parties. The platform will not mention a Palestinian state and will oppose unilateral withdrawals, but will support separation from the Palestinians and holding a regional peace conference with Arab parties.
Jerusalem will remain united and Israel will keep the settlement blocs, the Jordan Valley and Golan Heights, according to the platform. Blue and White leaders Gantz, Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi visited the Golan on Monday and promised never to give it up.
Gantz blamed Netanyahu for the continued Iranian presence over the Syrian border and noted that he, Ya’alon and Ashkenazi had all fought for the Golan in the IDF.
“We are witnessing a growing Iranian front being established here,” Gantz lamented. “Much like in Gaza and Lebanon, there are substantial threats we must deal with. Standing here before you are three generals and a former minister who served in the security cabinet, [with a] total of 117 years of military experience. We will establish a strong cabinet and, together with the IDF and security services, deal with these challenges in a responsible manner – not through the press. We will not need guidance on how to defend the country or fight against terror. We will stop the Iranian forces basing themselves on three frontiers: Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.”
Gantz said that if he is elected prime minister in the April 9 election, the IDF and security authorities would have his full backing and will be given the freedom to act.
“We will have a responsible and balanced cabinet,” he said. “We will increase the numbers of residents in the Golan, sending a resounding message to all – we will never relinquish the Golan Heights. On the contrary – it will only grow and strengthen! We will enlist the support of the United States and the international community to promote Israel’s interests on our northern border.”
Lapid called the Golan an inseparable part of the State of Israel. He noted his effort in recent years to persuade US senators and congressmen, the European Union and the United Nations to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan.
“We have a historical right to it and it is a strategic asset,” he said. “We will never give up the Golan Heights. It is ours and it will stay ours.”
Ashkenazi added: “I have only one thing to say to our enemies in Syria and the region – we will act, and not just contain. Action and not containment. That will be our approach.”