Skip to main content

Netanyahu’s top rival, neither right nor left

Flattering comments in Israel's liberal press do not mean that premiership candidate Benny Gantz espouses left-wing positions.
Benny Gantz, a former Israeli armed forces chief and head of Israel Resilience party, delivers his first political speech at the party campaign launch in Tel Aviv, Israel January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC1E3A6329C0
Read in 

The liberal left-wing media threw massive support behind Benny Gantz after his maiden political speech Jan. 29. Haaretz, the flagship newspaper of the Israeli left, devoted an editorial, commentary and numerous reports to Gantz, describing him as a fitting “alternative” with a good chance to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The paper even rose to the challenge of defending Gantz from attacks on his Achilles’ heel, i.e., his handling as chief of staff of Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and the way he was late in tackling the problem of the Hamas terror tunnels. The paper’s military commentator determined that the political leadership, meaning Netanyahu, was a full partner in everything attributed to Gantz.

Support for Gantz is based in the belief that he has a chance to take down Netanyahu, the greatest enemy of the Israeli left. But by coronating Gantz as the leader of their bloc, the center-left is making a basic mistake. Lt. Gen. Gantz (Res.) is far from being a dove, and he has proved as much over the past few weeks with his messages, speech and deeds. Actually, Gantz has positioned himself on the right-wing flank of the Likud in almost every issue he raised in his speech. The only exception was his position on matters of religion and state.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.