Blue and White leader Benny Gantz promised on Monday that if he becomes prime minister and decides to withdraw from any territory, he would bring it to the public in a national referendum.Speaking at a conference organized by the religious Zionist website Srugim, Gantz said there would not be a repeat of the 2005 Gaza Strip withdrawal, in which he said too many mistakes were made.“When we get to such a juncture, the public will decide, but it is not relevant now,” Gantz said in an interview on stage with Srugim editor Or Izraeli.Gantz spoke at the event in an effort to attract religious Zionist voters. He earned applause from the crowd when he promised that the Joint List would not be part of a governing coalition, and called for Israeli Arab citizens to perform national service inside their communities.“They have problems with crime, education and employment, so there is no reason for them not to serve their communities, and I tell them that,” he said.While Gantz defended himself from left-wing criticism for coming to a conference in which right-wing extremists were speaking, he attacked Yamina minister Bezalel Smotrich, saying that his past racist statements “stain the religious Zionist community.”Asked about lack of uniformity in messages from his Blue and White Party, Gantz said he “wouldn’t make a big story” of him calling for suspending campaigning during Sunday’s escalation on the northern border while his number two, Yair Lapid, attacked Netanyahu at the exact time.
The Democratic Union accused Gantz of misleading the public, because if he wants a coalition with Likud, there would be no withdrawals from land. The party called for Gantz to firmly rule out annexation.Gantz will follow Netanyahu and Yamina leader Ayelet Shaked in holding an event for English-speaking voters in their language. He will be hosted next Monday at the Tel Aviv Port by the Tel Aviv International Salon.Israeli-American actress Noa Tishby will interview Gantz at the event.