Liberman: Gantz Is No Right-Winger

Then-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz seen attending a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense committee meeting. (Flash90)

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that if his party succeeds in the next election, he would join a government led by Binyamin Netanyahu – despite his falling out with the Prime Minister in the current government. “There really are no other options,” Liberman said in a radio interview on Wednesday.

That’s because the political stances of the other leading candidates – Yair Lapid, Tzipi Livni, and Avi Gabay – were far too left for Yisrael Beytenu to join with. And that includes the new “star” of the election campaign, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz. Gantz’s views on the diplomatic process are a bit of a mystery, as he has not discussed what he thinks Israel should do in Yehuda and Shomron, and his new Resilience Party has not yet issued a platform.

But Liberman said that he was quite familiar with Gantz’s point of view – and “he is not part of the national camp,” as his party and the Likud were. “He has no connection to the right, that much is clear. I came to realize this when working with him in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and I have had the opportunity to speak with him several times. His point of view is clear. Yair Lapid is the same, although he tries to present a right-wing persona. Neither of them have any connection to the national camp.”

If he is brought into the next government, Liberman said that he would like to return to the Defense Ministry. “That is my first preference, but on condition that we agree in advance that we have a free hand in fighting terror. I cannot accept a situation where Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is walking around freely, that the heads of Hamas walk around freely in Gaza because Israel provides them with protection.” Liberman quit as Defense Minister in November, claiming that he was hamstrung by Netanyahu in dealing with Hamas in the manner he wanted to.