In Debut Political Speech, Netanyahu Challenger Gantz Warns Iran’s Rouhani: ‘I Will Thwart Your Plot’ Against Israel
by Benjamin Kerstein
In his debut political speech on Tuesday, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz — the head of the newly-formed Israel Resilience Party — issued a stark warning to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.
Speaking to a crowd of enthusiastic supporters in Tel Aviv, Gantz, who had previously remained silent on his worldview, addressed the Iranian leader directly.
“President Rouhani,” he said, “I know you are plotting to surround Israel. I will thwart your plot in the north, in the south, and any other place in the Middle East.”
“I will act against you in the international, economic, and military arenas,” Gantz continued, “and if the message isn’t understood in words, it will be understood in precise, painful blows.”
The ex-general also addressed the head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Qassem Soleimani, who directs Iranian operations in Syria and elsewhere.
“The Jewish people deserve a quiet life,” Gantz said to Soleimani. “The misbehavior will end.”
“We do not threaten the sovereignty of Iran,” Gantz added, “but we will not tolerate any threat to Israel’s sovereignty.”
Gantz also addressed the situation in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, referencing his role as head of the IDF during Operation Cast Lead in the summer of 2014. He cautioned Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar “not to test me again.”
Referring to a Hamas leader assassinated by Israel in Gaza in November 2012, Gantz stated, “The heads of the terror organizations should know that Ahmed Jabari was not the first and does not have to be the last.”
Regarding the general security situation, Gantz pledged to ensure Israel would remain a “strong, Jewish and democratic state.”
“We will strengthen the settlement blocs and the Golan Heights that we will never abandon,” he said. “The Jordan Valley will remain our eastern security border, we will ensure our security with our own hands in the entire Land of Israel, and will not allow the millions of Palestinians who live on the other side of the security fence to endanger our safety and our identity as a Jewish state.”
“United Jerusalem will be built up, will grow, and will forever remain the capital of the Jewish people and the capital of Israel,” he declared.
Gantz is seeking to unseat Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Knesset elections on April 9.
Earlier on Tuesday, it was announced that Gantz and a fellow ex-IDF general, Moshe Ya’alon, would run together on a joint list.