Gantz Declares He’s Running; Huldai Makes It Official

YERUSHALAYIM -
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party. (REUTERS/Corinna Kern/File Photo)

Benny Gantz dispelled any doubts that he will stay in politics and run at the head of the Blue and White party at a press conference on Tuesday night.

Gantz pledged that his party will preserve the current government until the election. After that, he predicted, there will be an “alliance, a “covenant of partnership against Netanyahu.

There was a report on Tuesday that he was in talks with Yamina, but the latter denied it.

Gantz acknowledged that several members of his party had left him in recent days, ahead of a presumed crash at the ballot box in March, and with a trace of bitterness, said, “You’re welcome to leave, the door is open.”

Recent polls show the party on the brink of extinction, doubtful of even clearing the 3.25% electoral threshold.

The former IDF chief of staff employed a military metaphor to describe how his decision to join the Netanyahu government saved the country:

“Blue and White lied down on a grenade, but as I have throughout my career, I was serving the public,” he said. “I saved the State of Israel. I saved Israeli democracy.”

Benny Gantz says he will continue to lead the Blue and White party despite the fact that it has crashed in opinion polls and that many of its members have been jumping ship.

Gantz says his party will preserve the current government until the election. After it, he says, there will be an “alliance” against Netanyahu — a likely indication that he intends to join forces with another party. There was a report on Tuesday that he was in talks with Yamina, but the latter denied it.

“As we knew how to save the country from Netanyahu, we’ll know how to steer the country to better waters,” he concluded the press conference.

Meanwhile, Mayor of Tel Aviv Ron Huldai made his candidacy official on Tuesday evening at a press conference where he revealed his new party’s name, “The Israelis.”

In the common theme of the election campaign, Huldai joined other challengers to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ with a denunciation of his alleged corruption and divisiveness.

“We can stop with the despair. I’m doing this for my children, and mainly for my grandchildren. Israel can and must be managed differently,” he said, asserting that the alternative is not the right-wing Gideon Saar and other Likud defectors, but his left-wing party.

Huldai claimed his party will safeguard democracy and the justice system, create socially-minded reforms, support small businesses, women’s and minorities’ rights, and oppose “religious coercion,” rampant violence in the Arab community and annexation of parts of Yehuda and Shomron.