Foreign Minister: 'I, not Gantz, will be PM after Netanyahu'

FM Yisrael Katz defends revelation of secret Iranian site, says Blue & White's Benny Gantz won't be PM, since left doesn't have a majority.

Shimon Cohen,

Yisrael Katz
Yisrael Katz
Hillel Meir/ TPS

Israeli Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) told criticized Benny Begin's comments on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to reveal the existence of an additional secret Iranian nuclear site, saying that the decision is unrelated to elections.

"I'm familiar with the details," Katz said. "It was important to expose this because we're in the middle of a battle to remove Iran's legitimacy. Yesterday something significant happened when the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Director-General came out and announced that Iran is breaching the agreement. The IAEA will soon discuss this, and the European countries with all their hypocrisy, headed by France, will need to respond to this and if there's been a breach they will need to start that process. I contacted these countries."

"Iran is advancing regional terror and we're working to foil it everywhere possible. In order to do that we need to remove Iran's legitimacy, and that's what the Prime Minister did yesterday. It's similar to what allowed Trump to act against the Iranians. We will continue to fight Iran and Hezbolah, even if it's not comfortable for [Blue and White leader MK] Yair Lapid and his friends. Lapid supported Hezbollah when he claimed that Israel was responsible for Hezbollah's attacks. Meanwhile, the Gulf States came out in support of Israel and condemned Hezbollah."

He also responded to the attacks on Netanyahu by Yisrael Beytenu Chairman MK Avigdor Liberman and the Israeli left.

"The Likud has been faithful to its path for many years," Katz said. "I am sorry about each of these statements, but it does not change the Likud's path and the large amount of support that both the Likud, and Netanyahu as its leader, enjoy."

"The Likud is a state party which works together with law authorities and in accordance with legal rulings. That doesn't mean there aren't issues with those systems, and it's legitimate to disagree with them... [Begin] had disagreements even during his term, but it's a fact that the Likud continued to enjoy widespread support."

Regarding Liberman's backtracking with regards to the Camera Law, Katz said: "At the beginning, he said he opposed it, then he said he supports it, and after that he decided to go with the left's stance and said he opposes it, because he wants to be part of their blocking bloc."

"Whatever he (Liberman) says now is the complete opposite to what he's said for twenty years. He's been a friend to the haredim and promised them half the kingdom in exchange for supporting his candidate for Jerusalem mayor. He was close with them. Not only that, when it comes to the Likud, you can't extort the Likud, since it's close to religion, even if it's not a religious party. That's the agreement between the Likud and the religious and haredi parties, other than the shared values and shared understanding of history. There's real substance there. You can't extort people who are already on your team."

Katz added that he "does not believe in the polls."

"In the previous elections as well the polls showed Likud as receiving 26 or 27 Knesset seats, and we all know what happened. What worries me is Otzma Yehudit, because I do not believe they will make it in. Their voters are from Yamina and some of [Moshe] Feiglin's supporters. For Otzma to make it in, Yamina would need to lose 5 or 6 Knesset seats.

"At the end of the day there's a set amount of votes. The Likud will gain strength because people come home at the last minute, and who will be prime minister is really important to them, so the error is on the side of the larger parties."

At the end of the conversation, Katz was asked who is more likely to be prime minister: himself or [Blue and White Chairman MK] Benny Gantz.

"Between the two of us - me, but right now it's Netanyahu," Katz said. "Benny Gantz will not be prime minister because the left does not have a majority, and as long as the left does not have a majority, the leader of the Likud will be prime minister. Right now that's Netanyahu, and when Netanyahu announces that he wants to retire, I will run to lead the Likud. I believe that I will win, and then I will run against the left and win as well," he concluded.




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