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Gantz taps 'a dozen' candidates for party's ticket: report

FILE: Forme IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks during the Herzliya Conference in Herzliya. Israel, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012
( AP Photo/Dan Balilty)

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz offered at least 12 people a position on his Hosen L'Yisrael (Israel Resilience) party’s slate in April 9 elections, Haaretz daily reported on Tuesday.

Gantz, who is considered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top challenger for the premiership, reportedly also dismissed 10 sitting parliament members who wished to run on his party’s slate on grounds that Hosen L'Yisrael is interested in non-members of parliament.

The report also suggested that former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi would run as the party’s no. 2. Gantz took over the position as IDF chief of staff from Ashkenazi in 2011. 

According to a recent poll by Israel Television News Company and Kan public television, Gantz Hosen L'Yisrael party would receive between 12 and 14 seats.  

A number of candidates to run on Gantz’ slate was mentioned by Haaretz, such as Israeli television journalist Miki Haimovich, former Tel Aviv deputy mayor Asaf Zamir, educator Chili Tropper, former Yeruham Mayor Michael Biton, and Alon Schuster, a former head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

Gantz made a rare statement on Monday, saying he will "do everything in his power to correct" Israel’s controversial Jewish nation-state law if elected.

Some of Israel’s right-wing lawmakers were quick to condemn Gantz’ remarks, saying the candidate chose to show he leans to the left in one of his first public statements regarding his political positions.

(AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Gantz, speaking to members of Israel’s minority Druze community, said that the nation-state law must be fixed to take into account the sensitivities and needs of Israel’s non-Jewish communities.

“You're fighting for your home, keep going," Gantz told a group of Druze protesting outside his home in Rosh Ha’ayin in the north of the country. "I'm very happy you came to me this morning in this unpleasant weather. I thank you for coming, it's my honor you're here this morning." Referring to fallen Israeli Druze soldiers, Gantz said, "we must remember the loss of many friends."

The highly-contested bill, which passed by a 62-55 margin in Knesset, speaks of Israel as the historic homeland of the Jews and says they have a "unique" right to self-determination within its borders.

Israel, which lacks a traditional constitution, holds its basic laws as preeminent, as they are meant to guide the judiciary and require a supramajority in parliament in order to be overturned.

Some of Israel’s right-wing lawmakers were quick to condemn Gantz’ remarks about the nation state bill, saying the candidate chose to show he leans to the left in one of his first public statements regarding his political positions.

Netanyahu's Likud party slammed Gantz's statement, saying Monday "When Gantz attacks the national law and Tzipi Livni congratulates him for it, everyone knows the obvious-- Gantz is left, just like Lapid.”

Gantz' Resilience party responded to the criticism, calling the reactions by Likud and others as "hysterical," claiming that Netanyahu's government “shot our Druze brothers in the back – we will heal (the wound).”

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