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Ex-military chief forms new political party in Israel

By Allen Cone
Ex-military chief forms new political party in Israel
Israel's military chief Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz salutes in front of the grave of former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon during his funeral in southern Israel on January 13, 2014. Gantz said he is forming a new political party before a snap election in April. File Photo by Baz Ratner/pool/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 27 (UPI) -- Retired Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, a former Israeli military chief, announced Thursday he formed a new political party in a likely challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Monday, the Israeli coalition announced it is dissolving and an election is set for April 9.

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The 59-year-old Gantz, the leader of Israel Defense Forces from 2011-15, has named his party Hosen L'Yisrael, which is resilience for Israel in English, Haaretz reported, according to documents filed with election authorites and obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The new party's goals are "to continue strengthening the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic country in light of the Zionist vision as it expressed in the Declaration of Independence, while defining and changing national priorities regarding the following subjects: Education, the development of national infrastructures, agriculture, law, national security, welfare and peace."'

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The new party is seen as being centrist and moderate with no desire to be associated with the Israeli left, Haaretz reported.

Netanyahu, when asked about Gantz forming a new party, he said he "does not interfere in how the left divides its votes." The prime minister leads the Likud Party.

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Israel Television News Company released a poll Tuesday that predicted that Gantz's party will earn 10 to 16 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. Should Gantz join the Yesh Atid party or the Zionist Union, he would gain 25 to 26 seats.

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Gantz and ex-Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon are reportedly discussing running together in the upcoming election. On Tuesday, Ya'alon announced that he was launching his own party.

Ya'alon has not yet announced a name or formal goals for his political party, but said it "won't have any shenanigans."

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