File photo: Benny Gantz. Photograph:( Reuters )
In 2011, the Israeli government headed by prime minister Netanyahu appointed Gantz as the army chief
Considered to be an outsider to the Israeli political arena, Benny Gantz is running for prime minister against sitting prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
His military career may well be his strongest suit in a country such as Israel, where security is the dominant issue. Two other former army chiefs also are members of the "Israel Resilience Party" founded by Gantz.
In 2011, the Israeli government headed by prime minister Netanyahu appointed Gantz as the army chief. He also fought in Lebanon and during the Second Intifada.
Some opponents accuse him of being soft on Iran and favouring the Iran nuclear deal, but his fiery words suggest otherwise.
"President Rouhani, on my watch there will be no Chamberlain Munich Agreement with your vicious regime. On my watch, there will be no appeasement. on my watch, Iran will not threaten Israel by taking over Syria, Lebanon, or the Gaza strip. Nor will it undermine the pragmatic regime in the middle east. on my watch, Iran will not have nuclear weapons,” he quipped.
Gantz is perceived to be more moderate and secular than Prime Minister Netanyahu, particularly on domestic issues such as allowing civil union and public transportation on the Jewish sacred day of Shabbat. But in terms of security and foreign policy, Gantz's political beliefs do not differ from Netanyahu's Likud party.
Gantz supports Israeli settlements and sees Israel as a Jewish state. Like Netanyahu, Gantz has strong ties with the US where he received training. He does not rule out a dialogue with the Palestinians but sees no scope for a Palestinian state, at least in the near future.
Gantz is a relatively new player in Israel’s political arena and his supporters think that it may guarantee an untainted and transparent leader.
Benny Gantz is playing along and presenting himself as a moral alternative to Netanyahu’s corrupt government.