Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Galant, a former candidate to lead the Israel Defense Forces, will be number-two on the ticket of the new Kulanu party, its chief Moshe Kahlon announced Thursday.
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Speaking at a news conference, Galant apologized about allegations that he once seized public land for his home at Moshav Amikam — allegations that scrapped plans to appoint him IDF chief of staff in 2011.
“Looking back, I regret it and know that things shouldn’t have happened that way. Mistakes were made in my conduct, and as is known, I paid for them,” Galant said. “Today I would act differently. I’ve put these things behind me and I am looking to the future with hope.”
At the press conference at Kfar Maccabiah near Tel Aviv, Kahlon said that if people were wondering what Galant, whom he called “a hero of Israel,” was doing in a party that focuses on socioeconomic issues, “the answer is simple: We both believe with all our years that without internal strength there can be no national strength.”
Kahlon sharply criticized the leaders of other parties for Israel’s economic shortcomings.
“You failed, you know you failed,” he said. “And if you hadn’t failed we wouldn’t be here today after two years. So please, a little modesty. Instead of blaming each other, take responsibility for your terrible failures.”
Galant said he had joined Kulanu because “leadership is measured in actions and accomplishments, not words. The reforms that Kahlon led are an example of actions and accomplishments.”
Kahlon is best known for increasing competition in the cellphone industry, sharply lowering Israelis’ phone bills.
Galant said that as a person who had grown up under simple conditions and who had commanded soldiers from all walks of life, it was “our obligation to act to reduce gaps and create a fair system of rewards that allows every citizen to live in dignity.”
Pollsters had said Kulanu could bolster its popularity if it added a security figure to its roster. Kahlon reportedly preferred to have his close friend, former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, as his number two, but Dagan decided not to run because of health issues. Kahlon also held talks with reserve major generals Giora Eiland and Amos Yadlin.
Kahlon had reportedly held talks with Galant for a number of months, even before an early election was called. Polls show that Galant, a leading commentator during the Gaza war, is very popular, but sources have told Haaretz that some people in Kulanu are concerned that the general’s presence so high on the ticket could be damaging because of the land-use affair.
The Green Movement, which joined up with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah in the last election, called on Kahlon not to include Galant on his slate. The movement says Galant has not returned public land he obtained illegally and that the general submitted a false affidavit in court.