Benny Gantz

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You are Benny Gantz, Defense Minister and Associate Prime Minister of Israel

File:benny.jpg

Notable Quotes

“The State of Israel is the strongest in the region and will remain so”

“The tension between Jews and Arabs tears us apart”

“There’s no shame in longing for peace”

Early Life

You were born in 1959 in Moshav Kfar Ahim, a small community to the west of Ashdod, Israel. Your mother was a Holocaust survivor from Hungary, while your father came earlier from Romania. They met in Israel and started the cooperative community where you were born and raised.


Israeli Defense Forces

At the age of eighteen, like all other teenagers of that age, you were drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces and volunteered to serve as a paratrooper. One of your first missions was to serve on the security detail of Egypt’s Anwar Sadat on the first-ever visit of an Egyptian delegation to Israel. During your service, you participated in numerous raids in southern Lebanon, both as a Paratrooper and as a platoon leader. You also commanded the unit which famously evacuated thousands of Ethiopian Jews from Addis Ababa during Operation Solomon, as well as commanding units during the Second Intifada and the Second Lebanon War.

Over your long military career, you commanded numerous units before being named as commander of Israel’s Northern Command in 2001, responsible for all troops serving on Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria. You served in this important position for four years until 2005, when you became the Israel’s military attaché to the United States. Serving in this role for four years, you became well-acquainted with the U.S. military and its relationship to Israel. During your service, you also received a Bachelor’s degree in history from Tel Aviv University, a Master’s in political science from Haifa University, as well as a degree in Natural Resource Management from the U.S.’s National Defense University. In 2009, you were promoted further to Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Israeli Defence Forces, making you number 2 in the whole Israeli military.

After the retirement of General Gabi Ashkenazi as the head of the IDF, you were nominated after a months-long search process by then defence minister Ehud Barak to be the next Chief of the General Staff. After a quick approval process by the Prime Minister and his cabinet, you assumed the post on February 14, 2011. During the approval process, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke highly of you, calling you “an outstanding officer and an experienced commander.” During your eventual four-year-term as the head of the IDF, you led both the 2012 and 2014 military campaigns against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, known as Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge, respectively.


Civilian Life

After making it to the top of the IDF, you retired from the military with honor in 2014. After leaving the military for good, you became the Chairman of Fifth Dimension, an intelligence systems company which you sold in 2018. However, the most important move you made after leaving the military was entering political life. With a stellar reputation from your time in the IDF, you formed a political party in December 2018 known as the Israel Resistance Party, which intended to first go on the ballot in the April 2019 elections.

Importantly, in the very first election your party ran in, you were approached by the Yesh Atid party to form a centrist coalition called Blue and White, which sought to unseat Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ruling, right-wing Likud party. Running the same platform, you and the Yesh Atid party were able to earn 35/120 seats in the Knesset, the same amount as Likud. As a result of your success, Likud was not able to create a governing coalition in the Parliament, and thus, the body voted to hold a second round of elections, set for November of 2019.

Instead of thinning the field and yielding a clear winner, however, these elections also became a virtual tie. With a one-seat difference between you and Prime Minister Netanyahu, discussions to form a government soon descended into chaos, and neither you nor Likud were able to create a governing coalition. This led to an unprecedented third election being called, taking place in March of 2020.

After yet another inconclusive, near-deadlock election, an even bigger crisis became apparent which took over Israel; COVID-19. While you and Prime Minister Netanyahu once again entered negotiations, domestic cases of COVID-19 began popping up throughout the country and lockdowns became mandated. In order to govern effectively during this crisis, therefore, you made a deal with the Prime Minister to form a unity government, in which you would serve as Foreign Minister for a time before taking over as Prime Minister. This angered many of your coalition partners and led some to go into opposition against you because of policy compromises. However, the deal was signed in late April of 2020, avoiding a potentially destabilizing fourth election. You took this role as a result of a compromise with your former political rival, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, after three consecutive elections in Israel failed to produce an effective governing coalition in the Knesset (Israel’s Parliament).


Views on Domestic Affairs

On domestic issues, you have made it a point to champion social programs for Israeli citizens. During the three elections in which you ran against Prime Minister Netanyahu, you promised to improve the Israeli school system and to expand daycare. You also promised domestic changes to benefit Israel’s secular population, such as allowing minimarkets and some public transportation to stay open on the Jewish Sabbath. You have also indicated your support for a military draft law for Israel’s Ultra-Religious Jews, who have historically been exempted from the mandatory service most other citizens face. These proposals have won you no supporters among Ultra-Religious Jews, but they have led to strong support from Secular-minded Jews.


Views on the West Bank and Gaza

As the hallmark of your foreign policy plans, you have pledged to pursue peace with the Palestinians. While you still wish to maintain Israel’s strength, you are, however, willing to make some territorial concessions if it means achieving a long term peace. However, you notably stated that "The Jordan Valley is Israel's eastern defensive barrier in any future conflict... and we see this strip of land as an inseparable part of the State of Israel." While you are willing to seemingly work with the Fatah coalition to a greater extent than Prime Minister Netanyahu, you also have other priorities that may make your potential partners nervous. Therefore, in the long run, you will likely need to be forced to make compromises, as you don’t want to be seen as weak on security matters.


Roleplaying Hints

Despite having one of the highest positions in the current Israeli government, you are not a typical Israeli politician and are, in many ways, an outsider. In addition, you are short on friends on either side of the Israeli political spectrum, both due to your near overthrow of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and then for compromising with him in order to beat COVID and avoid a fourth election. Therefore, you will need to tread lightly in making your views known, and try to get some of your former allies back on your side. Additionally, you will need to work hard to get any potential peace partners on your side. Since you are an outsider within the government, and might not always speak for Prime Minister Netanyahu, it will take a lot of convincing or other measures to convince wary neighbors to work alongside you. However, your long and honorable military career means that your word is good, and you can lean on that to gain leverage and make friends. While your political career is just beginning, you have already made an outsized impact, and if you play your cards right, you may have the opportunity to change the fate of the State of Israel.


Sources

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/benny_gantz_1052208

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/benny_gantz_1052259

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/benny_gantz_1052218

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Gantz

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/.premium.MAGAZINE-the-general-coming-to-end-the-netanyahu-era-in-israel-1.6875029

https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/When-good-commander-doesnt-equal-a-good-politician-582791

https://web.archive.org/web/20120309165419/http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/News/appointments/09/07/1201.htm

https://www.haaretz.com/1.5121763

https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-nso-in-talks-to-buy-israeli-intelligence-co-fifth-dimension-1001260088

https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Elections-set-for-Sept-17-after-coalition-talks-fail-591044

https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-calls-another-election-for-march-the-third-in-a-year/

https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/a-joint-meeting-between-netanyahu-and-gantz-to-start-soon-625241

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/elections/benny-gantz-government-netanyahu-israel-pm-1.7087481

https://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/blue-and-white-claims-progress-in-coalition-talks-623740

https://www.latimes.com/world-nation/story/2019-09-18/benny-gantz-both-politically-and-personally-is-the-anti-netanyahu

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