Benny Gantz
Benny GantzElad Malka

Defense Minister Benny Gantz believes that the Netanyahu bloc will break up after the elections if former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fails to obtain 61 seats with which to form a government.

Speaking to Channel 13 News on Monday, Gantz said, "It's no secret that I want to be Prime Minister. From the moment I entered politics, Netanyahu has been unable to obtain 61. Then I took away half of his government because there was COVID-19. Then I allowed the government of change because I didn't choose another alternative."

"The elections will be over if Netanyahu does not have 61. The game will be reopened. People will recalculate and we will be the only alternative that can speak to all sectors. It will not happen without agreements, but we can reach agreements," he said.

Gantz said he is proud of the union with the New Hope Party. "It's a very appropriate union that represents the statesmanlike center and the statesmanlike right. Last time, too, they said I wouldn’t pass the electoral threshold and I ended up with eight seats. I'm very optimistic."

Asked how many seats he would like to win, Gantz replied, "I believe that a double-digit number, as high as possible, is something that is achievable. Provided that you can talk to everyone. I believe that I can establish a broad, united, statesmanlike government that does not lean on the extremes."

The Defense Minister clarified again that he does not intend to sit in the same government with Netanyahu, but does not disqualify the Likud. "We need to differentiate between Bibi and the Likud. We believe that Bibi should not return to power. He cannot be a minister and should not be Prime Minister. We do not disqualify the Likud and those to our right and left. Right now the most important thing is to prevent Netanyahu from obtaining 61 and to create an alternative. Everything else will work itself out later. We will not join him if he has 61. In no way. I could have held this conversation from the Prime Minister's office without elections. The offer was a given. With a rotation and without a rotation, just take it. I didn't do it."

Gantz also commented on the Iranian issue and implicitly criticized, without mentioning their names, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and the head of the National Security Council, Eyal Hulata, when the latter revealed about two weeks ago in an interview with Channel 13 News that Israel has operated "quite a bit" in Iran, as he put it.

"I always prefer the deed to be done. I think we need to cut back on the chatter," Gantz said. "We need to continue dealing with technology, dealing with its nuclear potential, dealing with Iran's branches in the Middle East. I'm in favor of doing more and talking less. Where do we talk? As much as possible in closed rooms. I don't judge the actions of others. I also appear in international forums and speak. My references are very measured. There is an alignment. Everyone chooses their own words later."