Israeli electoral candidate Benny Gantz has officially launched his election campaign, breaking weeks of silence and mystery around his politics.
Gantz – who heads the Israel Resilience Party (Hosen L'Yisrael) – has kept his political stance shrouded in mystery since he first announced the formation of his party in December. Yet yesterday Gantz officially began his election campaign, revealing the slogan "Israel before everything".
In a short video posted online, Gantz said: "For me, Israel is before everything. Join me and we will walk down a new path. Because we need something different and we will do something different," Haaretz reported. Gantz then went on to end the video with a joke, saying "I think I've spoken too much".
The video is slick and succinct, with Gantz speaking directly into the camera in a matter of fact tone. Yet, by also including subtle comedy and a wry smile, Gantz seems to paint himself as a friend of the viewer, dressed in an open-collar shirt and relaxed in front of the camera. Gantz may well play on this dual image as the election race progresses, tapping into his image as a "safe pair of hands" earned during his time as the Israeli Army's Chief of Staff.
Gantz also seems to have adopted a khaki green and black colour scheme, in another nod to his military past. Compared to the blue and white used for most major party logos – including those of Likud, Israel Labor and Yesh Atid – Gantz' stylisation could prove striking as other aspects of his campaign are released.
It is also worthy of note that Gantz appears to be running on a ticket of differentiation, a theme quickly becoming a trend among candidates in the upcoming general election. References to "a new path" and "we need something different" will no doubt be interpreted as a criticism of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government, which has been marred by corruption and heavily criticised for its response to a series of violent escalations across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt).
The latest poll of the Israeli electorate – released on Wednesday by the Israel Television News Company and Israel's public broadcaster Kan – still showed Gantz' to be Netanyahu's biggest rival, placing his party second. The poll showed that Gantz would receive 13 seats in the 120-seat Knesset if elections were held now, with 31 per cent of Israelis believing Gantz is a more suitable prime minister than Netanyahu.
Though the poll predicted that Likud would remain the dominant party with 31-32 seats, Gantz could pose a significant threat if he were to join forces with Yesh Atid, itself currently polling at ten to 14 seats. The party's head, Yair Lapid is rumoured to be engaged in talks with Gantz about possible cooperation, though neither party has yet confirmed an alliance.
Yesh Atid also launched its election campaign yesterday, striking a similar tone to the Israel Resilience party in poking fun at Netanyahu. Their campaign video showed Yair Lapid shredding files labelled "Budget for the Prime Minister's Plane," "Political Patronage Positions Law," "Primaries Funding Law" and "Minister-Without-Portfolio," before throwing the bag of shredded paper in the bin. The video ended with the promise "What they broke, we will fix," the Jerusalem Post reported, in a nod to the three separate probes –dubbed Case 1000, Case 2000and Case 4000 respectively – levied against the prime minister.