TEL AVIV – Blue and White party leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s main election rival Benny Gantz said he is “not sure” about any of the three senior partners in his party in a bombshell recording leaked to the Israeli press.
“I’m not sure about any of the three. I’m not sure about anyone,” Gantz said on the recording aired on Sunday evening on Channel 13, regarding the senior members of his party — Yair Lapid, Moshe Ya’alon and Gabi Ashkenazi.
The broadcast was an extra slap in the face for Lapid, who hours before had told reporters, “I trust Benny and Benny trusts me.”
Gantz also seemed to contradict his public statements that he would not sit in a government led by Netanyahu. Suggesting that Netanyahu would need more centrist coalition partners in order to accept a U.S. peace proposal, Gantz is heard saying, “Let’s say that he wins the election, a week later (President Donald) Trump puts forward a (peace) plan and the people of Israel look at Benny Gantz and say, ‘Come, let’s shield Netanyahu,’ because otherwise (right-wing MK Bezalel) Smotrich will kill the last option (we have) to do something.”
“So when I get to that moment, I will need to see,” Gantz said in the leaked recording, which was translated by the Times of Israel.
He added, however, that if the prime minister is indicted he could not continue to be in the coalition.
“I can’t sit with him after there is an indictment following a hearing. That would be completely crazy.”
Gantz also claimed that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is “too afraid” to launch an additional investigation of Netanyahu regarding his approval of the sale of advanced submarines by German firm Thyssenkrupp to Egypt and over Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany. Critics have alleged that the premier had an interest in the Egyptian sale going through because of shares owned in a company bought by Thyssenkrupp’s supplier.
“I also think that Mandelblit was afraid to investigate this, and if he had investigated (Netanyahu) on this story, Israel would not have received those submarines. (Mandelblit) is afraid that people will say that (a decision to investigate) could harm (our) national security,” Gantz was heard saying.
In a separate leaked recording released last week, Gantz is heard saying that Netanyahu would be happy to see him dead, and may have asked the Russians to interfere in the elections.