Gantz: Netanyahu's annexation plan is 'irresponsible'

Blue and White chief hits Prime Minister over announcement Likud will back annexation of Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

AFP, Arutz Sheva Staff,

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz

The main challenger to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Israel's elections on Sunday condemned the premier's pledge to annex Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, calling it an "irresponsible" bid for votes.

Netanyahu said late Saturday he planned to apply sovereignty over Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, a move that could prove the death knell for the two-state solution. His remarks were widely seen as an appeal to right-wing voters ahead of what is expected to be a close election on Tuesday.

Benny Gantz, the former military chief whose center-left Blue and White alliance has posed a serious challenge to Netanyahu, condemned the premier's remarks in an interview with Yediot Ahronot.

"Why not ask how in 13 years Netanyahu could have annexed and didn't?" said Gantz, in reference to Netanyahu's time as premier.

"I think that releasing a strategic and historic decision in an election campaign bubble is not serious and (is) irresponsible."

Pressed on his personal position, Gantz said he opposed "unilateral" moves.

"We said we will strive for a regionally and globally backed peace agreement while maintaining our basic principles," he said.

He labelled Netanyahu's remarks as "a meaningless statement".

"It's a shame to play with people like that," he said.

Netanyahu did not provide details on how quickly he planned to move ahead with annexation and whether it would involve all Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria.

"I will apply (Israeli) sovereignty, but I don't distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements," he said in an interview with Channel 12 television.