'His Silence Is Confidence': Benny Gantz Earns Praise From Former U.S. General Martin Dempsey

Gantz is expected to formally declare his candidacy for prime minister Tuesday, announcing the platform of the party he registered in December, Hosen L’Yisrael

Former IDF chief Benny Gantz and U.S. general Martin Dempsey, 2013.
IDF Spokesperson's Unit

Martin Dempsey, a retired U.S. army general whose tenure as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff mirrored that of Benny Gantz as Israeli armed forces chief between 2011 and 2015, told Reuters that he would bring “an open mind to change” and have the “instincts to build a team to solve the most urgent challenges.”

“His silence would likely signal to me that he is carefully and deliberately thinking and learning, preparing to express his views with clarity and confidence, so that he knows who and what he wants to be and do when the political winds begin to blow with greater velocity,” Dempsey said.

>> Benny Gantz, the general coming to end the Netanyahu era

Gantz is expected to formally declare his candidacy for prime minister Tuesday, announcing the platform of the party he registered in December, Hosen L’Yisrael.

The event will be held at the Tel Aviv Convention Center at 8 P.M., in the hopes that television newscasts will broadcast it live.

Members of Hosen L’Yisrael said Gantz has been working with Hili Tropper, a friend who is expected to run on the party’s slate, to put together a “firm but statesmanlike” 15-minute speech.

In anticipation of the launch, the party has issued a teaser for a campaign ad with its slogan, “Left or right, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about Israel.”

Pavilion No. 10, where the event will be held can hold about 500 people. The party says hundreds have registered to attend, including volunteers and people interested in hearing what Gantz has to say. The hall will be set up differently than it is for most political gatherings, inspired by U.S. political conventions: Gantz will stand at a podium in the center, surrounded by the audience.

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Contrary to Gantz’s earlier intentions, it appears that Hosen L’Yisrael will not complete a planned unification with the Telem party of Moshe Ya’alon before the official launch. There are still disagreements over how the places on the slate would be apportioned, especially in the event of an additional agreement with Yair Lapid or Orli Levi-Abekasis.

So far, three people have been given high slots on the party’s slate of candidates: Hili Tropper, an educator; former mayor of Yeruham Michael Biton and Alon Schuster, the former head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

The Israel Television News Company and Kan public television new reported two weeks ago that former newscaster Miki Haimovich and Asaf Zamir, a former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv would receive spots in the coveted top 10 if they joined Hosen L’Yisrael. Haaretz reported that if Gantz’s predecessor as chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, agreed to join he would likely get the No. 2 slot.

About 10 members of the outgoing Knesset, some of whom had announced that they would not seek re-election, have approached Gantz or his associates seeking a spot on his slate, sources said. But all of them were told the party is not eyeing legislators from the outgoing Knesset.

Two weeks ago, in his first public statement since registering his party over a month ago, Gantz said he would do “anything in his power” to fix the so-called nation-state law.

Speaking to dozens of members of Israel’s Druze minority who gathered outside his home in Rosh Ha’ayin to protest the controversial legislation, Gantz said the law should “express the deep, inseparable connection” between Israel’s Jewish and Druze communities, “not only in combat, but in life, too; not only in hardships, but in good times too. We’ll do it together.”

Gantz was widely criticized by right-wing politicians, especially from Likud, for these remarks. on the right for these remarks, especially by the Likud. The party’s official response was “the real Meretz has revealed itself in left-wing candidate Benny Gantz.”

MK Avi Dichter, who sponsored the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, said Gantz was trying to cozy up to the Druze because of his role in the death of a Druze member of the Border Police in 2000. Gantz was the commander of the army’s West Bank forces when Madhat Yousef was shot near Nablus. He died after the army failed to arrange prompt evacuation over a period of several hours.

Last week Likud politicians attacked Gantz over Yousef’s death. Haaretz reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had defended Gantz on a few occasions over the incident. Investigations cleared high-ranking officers of claims of poor judgment in the case.

Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s new party, Hayemin Hehadash (“the new right” in Hebrew) has also attacked Gantz, calling him “the weak left.”

A video shared by Hayemin Hehadash features Gantz saying he put soldiers at risk so that no Palestinian would be hurt in an attack. Bennett says, “It’s better to be condemned for killing those who fly incendiary kites than to lose Israeli children.” In interviews and in the party’s ads on social media, refer to Gantz as “General Stalemate.”