Former Israeli Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz has officially launched his election campaign in a bid to become the country's prime minister, replacing Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in office since 2009. The general thanked Netanyahu for his service, but said that he and his newly established Israel Resilience Party "will continue from here".
At the same time, Gantz criticised the current prime minister's government and its policies, saying that it "encourages incitement, subversion and hatred".
"We all need a government that solves our real problems and is not preoccupied with itself", he said.
The Israeli general's party also announced its political stance, stating that it doesn't belong to the left or right, but merely puts Israeli interests "before everything". Even prior to the announcement, the party was predicted to win up to 15 seats in the Knesset, according to polls. The same polls suggested that Netanyahu's Likud Party could count on 30 seats, meaning that it would have to forge an alliance with other parties to secure a majority of at least 61 seats.
The Israel Resilience Party will take part in the elections in an alliance with the Telem Party, led by former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon.
Speaking about his position regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict, Gantz said that he was "yearning for peace", but noted that if attempts to reach an agreement were to fail, Tel Aviv would be forced to strengthen its positions in the West Bank and Golan Heights, promising to never abandon these territories, drawing the border along the Jordan Valley.