Benny Gantz
Benny GantzOlivier Fitoussi/Flash 90

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday gave an interview to Channel 13 News, shortly before he leaves his post and heads to the opposition.

On the new coalition, Gantz said, "I am very concerned. Extremism is going to meet reality. Extremism does not lead to any real solution - not in our foreign arenas, not in our domestic arenas and not in the social challenges of the State of Israel."

To the question of what bothers him the most, Gantz replied, "I think that where extremism meets reality and behaves in extreme ways - it will set the area on fire, in the security reality for sure. You can do a lot of nonsense in all kinds of places and set the area on fire. I hope they don't do these things. Even in terms of internal matters - I heard (Bezalel) Smotrich say that he will 'appoint people based on their kippah' - what does that mean? We said goodbye three weeks ago to [IDF General] Dan Ziv, a hero, who was completely secular. Was his faith not worth as much because he didn't have a kippah on his head?"

In view of the wave of terrorism, Gantz was asked whether he might have made a mistake in the security policy he led. He replied, "No, I think that my security policy is very correct. I think that our achievements vis-à-vis Gaza - every time there is the slightest violation we react with very large forces, and when we need to take the initiative we take the initiative - which means that we know how to maintain a very high security reality in Gaza."

"In our fight against terrorism in Judea and Samaria, we try to focus as much as possible on the war against the terrorists themselves and differentiate as much as possible from the rest of the population - and it is a fact that an intifada is not breaking out, but it is rather a fight against terrorist groups and sometimes individual threats. I am in favor of taking action, but I am not in favor of being hysterical. I am aware of the number of people who were killed as a result of the terrorist attacks, some from internal attacks, some from terrorists who came from Judea and Samaria.”

"Every week there are dozens of arrests. That's why I summarize my two and a half years in a very, very good way for Israel's security - but I don't ignore the terrorist incidents that happened and for which we paid a very painful price. What now? Will Ben Gvir solve it? Having a gun and hiding behind a truck is a solution to something? No. There are real things [that can be done] - we will do them."

In the past year, since the wave of terrorism began, the IDF has been operating in Judea and Samaria with a strength and scope that we have not seen for over a decade. The IDF's activity succeeds in thwarting many attacks - but at the same time accelerates the process of the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

"I deal with reality," said Gantz. "I talk with whoever it is possible to talk to and fight whoever it is necessary to fight. Mahmoud Abbas is not my friend and will not be my friend, but the discourse between us promotes security coordination. What do we want - a binational state? Is this what is being proposed here? Do you want to give up on a Jewish and democratic state of Israel?"

"It could go in that direction, another bit of annexation - why wouldn't it happen? And I think that the settlement should be strengthened and the Jordan Valley should be protected and the blocs should be strengthened - and I did it, I approved 10,000 housing units in Judea and Samaria. I – whom Bibi calls a leftist - based on nothing - I approved the housing units."

Gantz reiterated that he would refuse to enter the Netanyahu government. "I don't see a scenario in which I enter. If there is a situation where the Iranians now attack the State of Israel - talk to me one more time."