Gantz Ratchets Up Attack on Netanyahu: Begin Would Have Ousted You From Likud

After slew of critical statements against his alliance with Yesh Atid, Gantz says that 'Begin was a patriot,' but under Netanyahu he would have been considered anti-Israel

Benny Gantz at a Kahol Lavan rally in the Druze village of Daliyat al-Karmel, March 9, 2019.
Rami Shllush

Benny Gantz, leader of the Kahol Lavan political alliance, stepped up criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday, telling the premier that the historic leader of his party, Menachem Begin, would have ousted him were he still alive today. 

In a post on his official Facebook handle, the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff wrote: "Under Begin, Netanyahu would have already been ousted from the Likud." 

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The ex-general went on to write: "We must speak the truth. Menachem Begin wouldn't be accepted by Netanyahu's Likud today. He would be called anti-Israel. How would Netanyahu's lying propaganda videos about Begin have looked?"

"Begin was an Israeli patriot," Gantz continued, "a foundational right-winger who was modest and detested Kahane," referencing Netanyahu's recent support of Otzma Yehudit, the far-right Kahanist party, "who defended democracy, protected Israel's security and strove for peace. Begin's administration was a leadership that unified and brought people together – not a government of incitement and factionalism."

Gantz's comments came after Netanyahu said that if the Likud wins the election, they will make sure that the education profile remains theirs.

"Under Netanyahu, Smotrich will be education minister – we heard yesterday about his plan for the Israeli education system... Netanyahu will do everything to ensure his political survival – and on the way he will sacrifice the education of Israel's children, placing it in the hands of the most extreme extremists, it's no big deal to him," Gantz said. 

The ex-IDF chief was referring to MK Bezalel Smotrich, the chair of the right-wing party the National Union, who is known for his extremist opinions. 

His attack on the prime minister comes after a slew of critical statements by Netanyahu and the Likud against the Gantz-Lapid slate, portraying the centrist alliance as weak leftists who will form coalition with Arab parties. Speaking at the Likud faction meeting Monday, Netanyahu said, "Our war is against the Lapid-Gantz union, and there lies our main efforts."

"We want to influence the center-right, the soft right, to return to Likud," Netanyahu continued, "If they understand that we are talking about a left that will lean on Meretz and Labor, about a left that wants another disengagement, they will return to us. They voted against the nation-state law. Lapid voted against the nation-state."