“We are not looking to control anyone else,” Gantz said in his first interview since announcing he is running for prime minister.
By Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman – Jerusalem Post
Israel Resilience Party chairman and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz said Israel must find a solution to settlement crisis.
“We are not looking to control anyone else,” Gantz said in his first interview since announcing his candidacy for prime minister.
Speaking with the Hebrew daily Yediot Aharonot in an article published Wednesday, Gantz said, “We must find a way that does not require us to exercise control over other people.”
When asked if he would solve the settlement problem through means similar to the 2005 Disengagement from the Gaza Strip, Gantz praised that unilateral move.
“The Disengagement was carried out with a lot of political consideration,” he said. “All sides had a lot at stake and the state managed to do it without tearing the country apart. It was done legally, carried out by the State of Israel and the IDF, and even though it was very painful for the settlers, it was handled well,” he said.
“We must take the lessons of the Disengagement and implement them in other arenas.”
The full interview with reporters Shlomo Artzi and Hanoch Daum will be published in the Yediot Aharonot’s weekend edition.
During their interview, Gantz responded to questions about his desire to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Netanyahu took on the most difficult job in the State of Israel and gave his all,” said Gantz. “I consider him a patriot. I do not hate Bibi, but I think it is time for him to step down in a dignified way.”
When asked if he would sit in a Netanyahu government if the PM is indicted and a hearing is pending, Gantz said, “I intend to win, and resolve this issue in that way. For the first time in the last decade, I think there is a chance to beat him.”
When pressed, Gantz said he felt it was unlikely an indicted prime minister could serve the State of Israel.
“So, I said that I would not sit with him with an indictment,” he said.
When asked whether he saw Operation Protective Edge, the recent operation in Gaza that he oversaw, as a success, Gantz said the army exercised effective discretion.
“I have a duty to hurt the enemy with as few uninvolved casualties as possible,” he said. “I cannot get to zero. And I must do it all while ensuring minimal risk to the lives of our soldiers.”
“Everyone who plays a part in this story, I tell you, he plays a political game.”
More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip during Operation Protective Edge – which ran from July 8 through August 27, 2014 – as well as 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel.
Finally, Gantz attacked the Culture Loyalty Law and criticized the way the government has been operating of late under Netanyahu.
“It is unreasonable to me that there is a government in which the culture minister attacks the institutions for which she is responsible, and the minister of justice attacks the institutions for which she is responsible, the cabinet attacks the IDF and the prime minister attacks everyone.”
In response to Gantz’s interview, the New Right Party accused Gantz of being more Left than the Labor Party.
“He wants to expel more and more Jews from their homes during a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria,” the New Right said in a statement. “Benny Gantz must not be Israel’s next defense minister. As we said: A ‘New Right’ or a weak Left.”
The Likud Party’s statement said simply: “Gantz will form a leftist government with a coalition that relies on [Ahmad] Tibi and the Joint List.”
The Israel Resilience Party responded to those accusations on Wednesday, reminding the public that Netanyahu voted for the Disengagement and Minister of Culture and Sport Miri “Regev spoke of the Disengagement with a smile on her face.”
Gantz provided a reminder about the process by which the Disengagement was approved by the government and the parliament.
“On June 6, 2004, the government voted on the Disengagement plan. Netanyahu voted in favor,” he said. “On October 26, the Knesset voted on the disengagement plan. Netanyahu voted in favor. And, then, on February 16, 2005, the Knesset approved the evacuation compensation law that allowed the Disengagement to be carried out.”
Gantz then clarified that under his watch, “There will be no unilateral actions related to the evacuation of settlements.”
On the other side, opposition leader MK Shelly Yachimovich also lashed out at Gantz. She said that Gantz made clear in the interview that his plans are focused on becoming the next prime minister.
“Those who are considering voting for Gantz from the Central Bloc, must be careful not be misled and vote for him in hopes of replacing the government, because what they may find in retrospect is that they case their vote for another period of Netanyahu’s rule,” Yachimovich said.