The Latest: Israeli ex-army chief launches campaign to be PM
TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — The Latest on the lead-up to Israel’s April elections (all times local):
Former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz has launched his long-awaited run to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Speaking to an ecstatic crowd of supporters in Tel Aviv, Gantz accused Netanyahu’s government of dividing the country. Positioning himself as a centrist, he pledged to unite all Israelis.
He also promised a push for regional peace, while also pledging a tough line against Israel’s many foes across the Middle East.
In a jab at Netanyahu, who is facing possible indictment in a series of corruption scandals, Gantz promised to lead a clean, corruption-free government, saying “No Israeli leader is a king.”
Retired Israeli military chief Benny Gantz is launching his long-awaited political campaign, seeking to position himself as the first serious challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decade-long rule.
Gantz is flaunting a tough military pedigree and emerging in the polls as Netanyahu’s top rival. This highlights how security rules supreme in the minds of most Israeli voters.
The tall, telegenic ex-general with salty hair is still untarnished by partisan politics and has been riding a wave of popularity, even while saying little and presenting a vague ideological platform.
But the shine could quickly wear off following his speech later on Tuesday, when he is expected to finally lay out his agenda. Netanyahu’s allies are sure to brand Gantz as a “leftist” should he show any signs of moderation.