Middle East Monitor / September 3, 2019
Benny Gantz, chair of the main Israeli opposition alliance Blue and White (Kahol Lavan), declared yesterday that he would not pursue a unilateral withdrawal from occupied West Bank territory.
According to the Times of Israel, Gantz made the remarks at a conference held by the religious-Zionist news site Srugim in Jerusalem.
Vowing “there will be no second disengagement”, a reference to the 2005 withdrawal of settlers from the Gaza Strip, Gantz said that any potential agreement with the Palestinians would have to be backed by the Israeli public in a referendum.
Gantz’s comments “echoed” recent remarks by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who declared Sunday: “There will not be another Gush Katif, there will be no more displacements.”
Addressing specific details, Gantz told the conference that he would back an agreement based on Israel’s permanent control of the Jordan Valley region of the occupied West Bank, as well as “keeping the settlement blocs, no dividing Jerusalem” and “no returning to the ’67 lines”.
Gantz, whose Blue and White list is running neck and neck with Likud in the polls, was also asked whether he would support annexing any Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
“When it is relevant, if it is relevant, we will know how to”, the former head of the Israeli military responded, refusing to either commit to the idea or rule it out.
“Any deal must be based on our values but the people will be the ones to decide…Every decision that has strategic implications will be put to the people to decide,” Gantz said.
According to the Jerusalem Post, “Gantz spoke at the event in an effort to attract religious Zionist voters”, and “earned applause from the crowd when he promised that the Joint List would not be part of a governing coalition.”