Benny Gantz, Seen as Top Netanyahu Challenger, to Deliver First Campaign Speech

The former military chief's newly established party would come in second in the elections behind Netanyahu's Likud, according to recent polls

Former military chief Benny Gantz.
\ Moti Milrod

Benny Gantz, a former military chief and the head of a new political party running in the upcoming election, is expected to deliver his first campaign speech next week on Thursday.

Gantz, the leader of the newly founded party Hosen L'Yisrael who is currently seen as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's main rival, has kept silent about his plans and platform. In his speech he is expected to detail why he decided to run for Knesset as well as his agenda.

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According to two polls released on Wednesday, Gantz's party would receive 12 to 14 seats. If Livni joined Gantz, polls show their joint party would receive 15 seats, according to one poll. Hosen L'Yisrael would come in second after Netanyahu's Likud, which took in the polls between 28 and 31 seats.

A poll by the Israel Television News Company showed that 35 percent of Israelis prefer Netanyahu as prime minister compared with 28 percent who would take Gantz. According to a poll by the Kann public broadcaster, 40 percent prefer Netanyahu to 30 percent who would prefer Gantz. Yair Lapid received only 17 percent according to the News Company and 24 percent according to the public broadcaster.

Despite the growing criticism over his silence, Gantz's aides believe this is the right strategy, which they hope will create the biggest impact of voters. The party plans to open the campaign in a place of national significance, probably Jerusalem.

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Gantz registered his new party last week after it was announced that the governing coalition is dissolving and that Israel is set to go to elections on April 9.

The former general stated that his party's goals are "to continue strengthening the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country in light of the Zionist vision as it expressed in the Declaration of Independence, while defining and changing national priorities regarding the following subjects: Education, the development of national infrastructures, agriculture, law, national security, welfare and peace."