Palestinians ‘encouraged’ by Netanyahu rival Gantz’s settlement remarks - spokesman

Lester Mason
February 11, 2019

While Gantz has to date remained relatively mum on policy, his party is predicted to win up to 23 seats in the next parliament, trailing only Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud which is polling at around 30 mandates.

Benny Gantz, the former armed forces chief of staff, spoke positively of Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip in 2005, in his first interview since launching his election campaign last week.

With peace talks frozen throughout most of Mr Netanyahu's decade-long rule, Mr Gantz's comments were welcomed by Palestinians.

Palestinian president's spokesman gave a cautious welcome on Wednesday to remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's closest election rival suggesting openness to a future removal of settlements from the occupied West Bank. "It's encouraging, if he succeeds and he sticks to this opinion", Nabil Abu Rdeineh told Reuters. Gantz responded that "it was a legal action; it was approved by the government of Israel and carried out by the IDF and the settlers, with great pain but done very well".

Gantz described the Gaza withdrawal as well executed, telling Yedioth: "We need to take the lessons and apply them elsewhere".

His opponents quickly lambasted him.


"No unilateral decision will be made on settlement evacuation", the party said in a statement, adding that Gantz would "maintain. non-negotiable security protections".

Mr Gantz is now the subject of a lawsuit filed at the Hague by Ismail Ziada, a Dutch-Palestinian citizen born in Gaza's Al Bureij refugee camp. Mr Gantz was commanding the military at the time.

A poll published by the Walla news site on Thursday asks respondents to choose from among Tuesday's top primary vote-getters in deciding who their preferred candidate to lead the Likud after Netanyahu would be.

The New Right Party issued a statement thanking Gantz "for removing the mask, with party chairman and current Education Minister Naftali Bennett railing against him for "calling for the expulsion of more Jews from their homes", warning that "only a strong New Right Party will prevent Benny Gantz from becoming defense minister in the next Netanyahu government". Among the general public, 33 percent favor Sa'ar, followed in a distant second place by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein at 7 percent.

However, Yesh Atid sources are now denying that Lapid would be drawn into a joint campaign, insisting that he represents the only alternative to replace Netanyahu as prime minister.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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