Israeli opposition chief pledges to mend ties with Democrats

The former army chief of staff accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

18 February 2020 | 11:27

Source: Associated Press

  • Source: Associated Press
  • Last update: 18 February 2020 | 11:27

People walk on a bridge under an election campaign billboard of Blue and White party shows its party leader Benny Gantz, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Ramat Gan, Israel, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. (AP Photo)

JERUSALEM: Israel’s opposition leader Benny Gantz said on Monday that if he becomes prime minister after the country’s third national elections next month, he would work to mend ties with America’s Democratic Party.

The former army chief of staff accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of neglecting bipartisan ties in favor of exclusive support from President Donald Trump’s Republican Party.

Netanyahu has heavily emphasized his relationship with Trump in the past year of electioneering, and has drawn criticism for alienating Democrats in the process. Both Gantz and Netanyahu have called for bipartisan support for Israel in the United States.

Gantz, who leads the Blue and White party, said it was “very important that we emphasize the importance of bipartisan relationship between Israel and the United States.”

“We don’t care if the American president is a Republican or Democrat,” Gantz said. “If he is a good president for the United States,” then that person would be a “good president for the state of Israel as well.”

Gantz and his running mate Yair Lapid addressed a crowd of around 1,000 mostly English speakers at an event in Tel Aviv. Lapid said that Israel faces the task of a “rehabilitation” of ties with the Democrats and with American Jewry in general.

Gantz is trying to unseat Netanyahu in the March 2 vote — Israel’s third consecutive parliamentary vote after two elections in 2019 failed to yield a conclusive result. Netanyahu, Israel’s longest serving prime minister, seeks reelection while facing indictments on corruption charges. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Pre-election polls indicate that neither Gantz nor Netanyahu has a clear path to a parliamentary majority.

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