After Netanyahu´s failure to form a government, will Gantz succeed in overthrowing him?

Former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz has succeeded in ousting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but still faces a difficult task as prime minister.

Netanyahu announced yesterday evening that he was unable to form a new government after the stalled September elections, allowing Gantz to try to do so.

But despite a blue-white Gantz alliance winning 33 seats in parliament versus 32 for Likud, it has so far failed to win the support of a 120-member majority to form a stable government coalition.

Gantz, the paratrooper and 60-year-old former chief of staff, had no political experience when he declared himself a rival to Netanyahu in December 2018.

Despite Gantz's alliance and Netanyahu's Likud party winning 35 seats in the April elections, Netanyahu was given a chance to form a coalition government thanks to the support of small right-wing and religious parties. Time, but without an absolute majority.

"Gantz has managed to achieve what the more experienced politicians have failed to achieve over the years," analyst Yossi Frter wrote in the Haaretz daily.

But he pointed out that Gantz's chances of success against veteran politician Netanyahu were slim.

"The election results are familiar to everyone. You can't show a fairy and move things magically to reach the majority," he said.

The head of the centrist coalition has presented himself as someone who can address the divisions in Israeli society that Netanyahu accuses of exacerbating.

Benny Gantz was born on June 9, 1959, in the southern Israeli village of Kfar Ahim, which was founded by his Holocaust surviving immigrant parents.

Gantz joined the army in 1977 and completed a difficult selection course for paratroopers.

After being promoted to command, he assumed command of the Shaldag Air Force Operations Unit. In 1994 he returned to the army to command a brigade and then a division in the occupied West Bank.

According to his official military career, Gantz was a military attaché to Israel in the United States between 2005 and 2009.

Netanyahu's rival served as army chief of staff between 2011 and 2015, boasting in a video of the number of Palestinian fighters killed and targets destroyed under his leadership in his 2014 "bloody" war against Hamas in Gaza.

Gantz is married and has four children. He holds a BA in History from Tel Aviv University, an MA in Political Science from the University of Haifa and an MA in National Resource Management from the National Defense University in the United States.

He is a hawk in security and has vowed to keep the strategic Jordan Valley in the West Bank under Israeli security control, and to keep the entire city of Jerusalem, including the occupied eastern part, as the capital of Israel, both of which are rejected by the Palestinians.

He has also vowed to improve public services and never tolerate corruption while Netanyahu faces possible corruption charges.

For the Palestinians, the electoral statement of the Blue-White coalition spoke of the desire to separate from the Palestinians, but did not specifically mention the two-state solution.

Gantz is liberal in social issues related to religion and state, and favors the adoption of civil marriage.


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