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I chose the only path possible at this time, a national emergency government

I will never compromise on democracy or on the underlying principles of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White
Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, speaks at an election campaign event in Ramat Gan on Feb 25, 2020. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)
Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, speaks at an election campaign event in Ramat Gan on Feb 25, 2020. (Gili Yaari/Flash90)

We are facing one of the most serious challenges in the history of our country. It is a global challenge of exceptional magnitude, and it has hit Israel at a time of crippling political deadlock and unbearable divisions — a lethal combination. Leadership has never been more necessary. Leading has never been more difficult.

As a soldier who has dedicated my life to protecting the State of Israel, I have vowed to carry my commitment to the country forward and inform my decisions as a political leader. At this time of crisis, I had no choice but to put politics aside and choose the only path that allows us to avoid fourth elections. Because at a time like this, pulling people out to the polls again — many of whom have lost their livelihoods and are riddled with anxiety about the future — is inconceivable. I chose the only path which positions Israel to effectively fight this horrific pandemic: the path of a national emergency government.

More than ever, Israel needs unity. Israel needs strong and capable leadership, able to relentlessly fight the coronavirus, while protecting Israel’s democracy.

And let me state clearly: No matter how fierce the battle, I will never compromise on democracy. I will never compromise on the principles underpinning the votes of the more than one million Israelis who voted for Blue and White.

Using the same strategic vision that helped me command over the most complex IDF military operations, I,  joined by my colleagues and political partners, will put all of my time, experience and abilities into managing the current crisis on behalf of all of Israel’s citizens – in Tel Aviv, Be’er Sheva, Elqana, and Tayibe.

We are facing a global challenge on an extraordinary scale, one that is forcing us to change the way we think and the way we live. Close collaboration and coordination, locally and globally, must be the guiding principles in our quest to overcome this pandemic. There is no room for political maneuvering, no room for internal quarrels – there is only one clear goal: to fight this battle the way we know how to fight, united and strong.

I readily concede that seeing my political partners, Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya’alon, quit our shared path, saddened me. But despite the difficulty, I am at peace with my decision. Because these are unusual times, and they call for unusual decisions.

I embrace the people who feel angry. I have love for the people who feel disappointed. I respect everyone. And I personally pledge to the public: I will use every means to ensure that our attitude and our way prevail. The Israeli public has seen us accomplish seemingly impossible feats in the past, and this will be true going forward as well.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about campaign promises, but my core promise to the Israeli public will never change: Israel will always come before everything else.

About the Author
Lt. Gen. (res.) MK Benny Gantz is chairman of the Blue and White party and Speaker of the Knesset.
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