130 Senior Defense Officials Call For Gantz To Resign From Race

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Gantz on a visit to Eilat. (Photo: Tal Oz/Defense Ministry/Police Spokesperson's Unit)

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An open letter calling for Blue and White leader and Defense Minister Benny Gantz to resign from running in the March election was published in Israeli newspapers on Monday morning, signed by 130 senior defense officials and former army commanders.

Among the signatories of the letter, entitled: “Benny, It’s Enough! You Tried Everything, Now Israel Must Come Before Everything,” were former IDF chiefs of staff Ehud Barak, former Mossad head Danny Yatom, and former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon.

“Benny, many of us supported you in the last elections,” the letter stated. “Some of us supported your controversial decision that followed [to form a government with Netanyahu], and some of us didn’t. But we’re all similar to you, men of the land soaked with the blood of our brothers and soldiers.”

“You sacrificed yourself for the public because the times and your conscience didn’t allow you otherwise. You fought for democracy and defended the legal system. Now it’s clear that it’s not the coronavirus but the one who was criminally indicted [a reference to Netanyahu], who is endangering the lives of his nation in order to save himself and his rule.”

“The solution is in your hands. You must resign from this risky race, that will end with your party below the threshold and leave another party outside. Don’t let yourself waste votes for the camp [bloc of parties] calling for a change [to defeat Netanyahu]. Israel will salute you. Truly put Israel before everything.”

According to news reports, those behind the letter stated that they worked behind the scenes to convince Gantz to quit the race before doing so publicly by publishing the letter.

The Blue and White party has slowly dissolved since new elections were called, with more and more MKs announcing they were leaving the party in recent months, and polls showing the party failing to cross the electoral threshold.

Two weeks ago, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid called on Gantz to drop out of the race in the wake of his party’s poor performance in the polls so as not to waste votes.

Lapid’s call was echoed last week by a member of his party, MK Ram Ben-Barak, who said that Gantz should take responsibility and quit the race so as not to waste center-left votes.

“If Gantz runs, he’s risking the chance of forming a government without Netanyahu,” Ben-Barak told Radio 103FM.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)