Netanyahu Opponent Breaks His Silence, Adds Another CoS to Team
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has discovered something new as he mounts another bid for reelection: an opponent who meets him head-on in the security sector. The election is ten weeks away and only on Tuesday did former army chief-of-staff Gen. (Ret.) Benny Gantz offer voters anything that resembles insight into his beliefs and policies. But Gantz’s silence served him well as polls registered enough support for the new party and its novice leader to speculate a second-place finish in his first time out. Taking the battle to the veteran prime minister’s political wheelhouse, Gantz brought on board “Boogie” Ya’alon to be his second: another former army chief-of-staff who also served as defense minister and stood by his side as Gantz delivered his first speech. Reviews were generally favorable as the former general played the defense card and is believed to be soliciting a third former chief of staff, the popular Gabi Ashkenazi who might have been enticed with the promise of the second slot after Gantz and before Ya’alon. What was unambiguous in round one was the frontal attack on Netanyahu, charging that the incumbent doesn’t care enough for his people. Kicking-off the campaign on a negative note, Gantz declared, “I am here tonight because I fear for Israel. The nation is strong, the country is amazing, but an ill wind is blowing. The conflict between left and right is tearing us apart; the clash between religious and secular is dividing us. The tension between Jews and non-Jews is threatening us… The political arena is poisoned. In my view, the current leadership is obsessed with itself, not with you or us.” What appears to be certain is that Prime Minister Netanyahu is in the fight for his political life because for the first time since his election in 2009, he’s got an opponent.