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A political storm called Gantz

Polls indicate that Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is getting closer and closer to toppling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the April 9 elections. Can he make it?
Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, speaks at an election campaign event in Ashkelon, Israel April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC16E354D800
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Up to six months ago, no one believed Benny Gantz would come so close to replacing Benjamin Netanyahu as the prime minister of Israel. Many Israelis willing to give a kidney just to see Netanyahu pack his bags and vacate the official residence on Jerusalem’s Balfour Street are now pinning their hopes on this gangly, introverted, shy and soft-spoken officer. Just over four years ago, this seemingly unimpressive man set out to find himself after a lifelong military career that took him to the pinnacle of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as chief of staff. In December 2018, the retired lieutenant general formed a political party called the Israel Resilience Party, bringing the entire political establishment to its knees.

Among the many aspiring to Netanyahu’s crown, Gantz became an odds-on favorite to achieve what no one had managed to do over the past decade. With his party overtaking Netanyahu’s Likud, Gantz turned into the great white hope of the anti-Netanyahu camp. There were other wannabes for the title in the past, such as head of the centrist Yesh Atid party Yair Lapid, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party Avigdor Liberman and leader of the New Right party Naftali Bennett. Then there were former Likud Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and even the popular former IDF chief whom Gantz replaced in 2011, Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi. However, Ashkenazi, tarnished by scandal (the Harpaz affair) over a falsified document and ugly turf war, waited too long to decide; Liberman missed his chance in the 2015 elections; Bennett was trampled by Netanyahu’s political machine and Lapid was unable to break through his glass ceiling. Benny Gantz, the man from nowhere, did it.

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