Gabi Ashkenazi speaks

Blue and White party candidate gives first interview, discusses Harpaz affair.

Elad Benari ,

Gabi Ashkenazi
Gabi Ashkenazi
Kobi Richter/TPS

While the heads of the Blue and White party have not been giving interviews to the media, former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi decided to hold a comprehensive interview with Channel 12 News.

He was asked who among the four leaders in the new party (Benny Gantz, Moshe Ya’alon, Yair Lapid and himself) is best suited to be prime minister and said, "I am convinced that Benny Gantz has all the qualifications to be prime minister, otherwise I would not be here."

Asked what role he would receive should his party form the next government, Ashkenazi replied, "Right now I am not concerned about what will happen the day after the election, because we are all focused on Election Day. I am not worried about my ability to influence when we are in this leadership. I will have a hand on the steering wheel.”

Referring to the situation on the Gaza border, the former Chief of Staff said that his party "will restore security to the residents of the Gaza envelope and will not restrain itself." Ashkenazi also took a shot at Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and said, "I think that after 500 rockets fired at the State of Israel, we would definitely not have sent 15 or 20 million dollars in suitcases to Gaza," a reference to the two installments of Qatari money that Israel allowed to enter Gaza for the payment of Hamas employees.

Ashkenazi also discussed for the first time the Harpaz affair, which was an apparent attempt to smear then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and influence the appointment of Ashkenazi's successor. Then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein ordered that the criminal probe be dropped over a lack of evidence, but criticized those involved and particularly Ashkenazi, accusing him of collecting material against Barak.

Ashkenazi acknowledged in Thursday’s interview that he was wrong in his conduct and even considered resigning due to the complex relations with Barak. "You have to judge me for bombing a reactor in Syria and not over what happened at the office in the Kirya," he said.

“The Harpaz affair is over as far as I’m concerned. This was a relationship that broke down between the office of the defense minister and my bureau for reasons that are not clear to me. The goal of all these decisions was simply to make things difficult for me and to make life miserable for me. At one point I even considered maybe quitting but in the end I decided to stay until the end of my shift," continued Ashkenazi.

He added, "I have said in the past that I take responsibility for my mistakes. I also said it publicly. I think I could have handled the Harpaz document differently. As far as I’m concerned, I’ve put that affair behind me. I have said everything I have to say.”