Israeli Minister Bashes Top Netanyahu Challenger Benny Gantz for Being 'Silent'

Gantz was named army chief after Yoav Gallant was eliminated as a candidate following a report that he'd taken over land illegally

Former IDF chief Benny Gantz speaks at the funeral of Tzvika Levy, Kibbutz Yifat, Israel, December 31, 2018.
Gil Eliahu

Minister Yoav Gallant, who recently left Kulanu for Likud, lashed out Saturday at former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz, considered a top challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the upcoming election

“Benny Gantz is silent. I think he knows why he’s silent. I also know why he’s silent, and thousands of officers who served under him also know why he’s silent,” Gallant told an audience in Nes Tziona. “When you have nothing to say, you don’t talk,” he added.

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Gantz’s party, Hosen L'Yisrael, responded: “The people of Israel need different, statesmanlike discourse and a different leadership.” When Gallant was asked whether he thought another former chief of staff, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, would join Hosen L'Yisrael, he said: “It’s a connection between a person without opinions and a person without Knesset seats.”

Opposition leader Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) told the audience in Nes Tziona that she would be happy to see her party team up with Gantz. “So many parties create many segments and there’s a danger that one or two parties from the center will siphon off votes from the rest of the parties, and that will distance us from an alternative to the Netanyahu government,” she said. “I’ve spoken to Gantz in the past, and his positions are exactly the same as the Labor Party.”

When asked whether she saw herself as a future chairwoman of the Labor Party, she said: “I don’t see how that will happen, at least not in the coming elections. The Labor Party has a chairman, Avi Gabbay, and I call on everyone to stand behind him.”

Gantz was appointed IDF chief of staff in 2011, after Gallant was eliminated as a candidate following a report by the state comptroller that he had taken over land illegally in Moshav Amikam. Then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said he would not be able to defend a challenge to Gantz’s appointment in the High Court.