Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blasted Benny Gantz on Thursday evening, calling him and others in his newly-formed alliance with Yair Lapid "left-wing generals who pretend to be right wing."
Netanyahu accused Gantz and Lapid of "relying on Arab parties who not only don't recognize the State of Israel," but want to destroy it. He said Israel has already seen such a scenario of "leftist generals," giving former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and the "Oslo disaster" as an example.
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The prime minister accused Lapid and Gantz of advocating a second disengagement, "a whitewashed word for dislocating settlements." He claimed to have withstood immense pressure from former U.S. President Barack Obama, and did not evacuate settlements in the West Bank.
Netanyahu stressed Israel's situation has never been better diplomatically, citing burgeoning Arab ties and the U.S. decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
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The prime minister criticized Gantz for mocking his military record in a recent speech. "I, who risked my life. But today Benny Gantz is ready to give the premiership to Yair Lapid, whose military experience is a reporter for 'Mahane,'" he said, referring to the Israeli army's newspaper.
Netanyahu's comments come shortly after Gantz and Lapid held their first press conference after announcing the formation of their alliance, Kahol Lavan. Speaking at a Tel Aviv event, Gantz called for "national reconciliation instead of incitement" while Lapid declared the establishment of "a ruling party."
Three separate polls gave Kahol Lavan a significant lead over Netanyahu's Likud party: Channel 12's poll showed the party would get 36 seats in the next Knesset, while Likud would receive 30. Channel 13's poll, meanwhile, predicted Kahol Lavan would get 36 seats, compared to 26 for Likud.
Public broadcaster Kan's poll predicted 35 seats for Kahol Lavan, and Likud following up with 32.
Channel 12 also asked respondents who they preferred as prime minister. Thirty-seven percent of those surveyed said they would rather see Netanyahu stay in the Prime Minister's Office, while 36 percent said they favored Gantz and Lapid.