Opinion: During campaigning, former IDF chief of staff failed to articulate his platform, leaving moderate right wingers clueless about what he stands for and seeing no choice but to return to familiar promises of Netanyahu

The job of the chair of a political party is to articulate a comprehensible political position, advertise that position, and advocate for its acceptance by the public. Benny Gantz has been a politician for about four years, has chaired three political parties, and has yet to articulate a clearly comprehensible ideology. The result is a prime ministerial candidate no one has any reason to vote for and an empty suit in Gantz’s chair.

In his most recent political constellation in the National Unity Party, Gantz joined forces with Gideon Sa’ar, a supporter of the Jewish presence in the West Bank. At first, I thought that Sa’ar would help provide the sort of ideological direction that Gantz’s previous two parties seemed to lack. This would have helped Gantz reemerge as a right-wing alternative to Benjamin Netanyahu.

בני גנץ בהצהרה לתקשורת
Benny Gantz (Photo: Shalom Shalev)


Then, Gantz brought in Gadi Eisenkot, who was recorded saying that the Jewish presence in the West Bank is leading to a binational reality.
Rightist voters ready to move on from Netanyahu are not going to support a party whose number three says things of such nature.

I am not against the idea of centrist parties or centrist coalitions. It is, for example, completely legitimate to support the idea of Palestinian statehood, theoretically, but to consider it impractical in the near future, perhaps because elements of Palestinian society continue to commit terrorism and threaten Israel, and perhaps because the Palestinian leadership is not ready to accept statehood on reasonable terms. Gantz has not clearly articulated that position, and his political parties have been hodgepodges of different people saying different things.

Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, habitually concentrates his parties with other generals, and touts military experience as a political credential. Military experience does not equate to political experience, however, and being a general does not go as far in Israeli politics as it used to. Next to Netanyahu, Liberman, and Lapid – Gantz is still a political freshman, and his record as a politician demonstrates ineptitude.

In many countries politicians and parties disagree on many issues. In the U.S., Democrats and Republicans tend to disagree about abortion, environmental policies, tax policies, social services, and other matters.
Israeli politics revolve around the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

גדי איזנקוט ובני גנץ
Benny Gantz and Gadi Eisenkot (Photo: Shalom Shalev)


Although there are exceptions.

The Shas and United Torah Judaism parties all focus on religious issues.
Overall though, Meretz supports Palestinian statehood, opposes the Jewish presence in the West Bank, and wants to advance Israeli-Palestinian relations. The Religious Zionist party opposes Palestinian statehood and supports the development of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. The Labor Party supports Palestinian statehood but is more willing than Meretz to work with parties across the isle when they find common interests. Like the Religious Zionist party, the Likud is on the Right, but like Labor, they have a history of crossing the isle.

Allegations against Netanyahu have become an additional issue that has largely fallen along conventional political lines. The Center, and Left declare Netanyahu a persona non grata, and the Right continues to back him.

So, where does Gantz stand in all this? When he entered politics, Gantz was Netanyahu’s main challenger, but his ability to be the primary “anti-Bibi” candidate was hampered when he joined a short lived, barely functional coalition with the former premier.

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz as chief of staff


And on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Gantz has been in politics for about four years and many people are still not sure what his position is on the Palestinians, while his statements have been sparse and vague.

The National Unity Party may have gotten 12 Knesset seats, but that is partially to the credit of candidates like Sa’ar, Pnina Tamano-Shata, Yifat Shasha-Biton, and others who have their own followings.

For his part, Gantz has yet to establish a stable place for himself on the political map or make a lasting political impact.

As reported by Ynetnews