"It's encouraging, if he succeeds and he sticks to this opinion," Abbas aide Nabil Abu Rudeineh told Reuters after the former IDF chief said in an exclusive interview to Yedioth Ahronoth, Ynetnews' sister newspaper, that he opposed controlling another people and that Israel could learn from the 2005 removal of its settlements in the Gaza Strip.
"We need to find a way in which we're not controlling other people," Gantz said in the far-ranging interview, his first to the Israeli media since unveiling his campaign last month.
Regarding the evacuation from Gaza, the former IDF chief said: "It was a legal move, a decision made by the Israeli government and carried out by the IDF and the settlers in a painful, but good manner. We need to take the lessons learned and implement them elsewhere."
But Gantz came under fire from the Israeli right-wing, who accused him of seeking to remove settlers from their homes.
"We thank Gantz for taking the mask off," said Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked's New Right party. "Benny Gantz is bypassing (Labor leader Avi) Gabbay on the left and wants to expel more Jews from their homes in a unilateral disengagement from Judea and Samaria. Benny Gantz cannot be the next Israeli defense minister."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, which has repeatedly accused Gantz of left-wing policies, said: "We told you - Gantz will establish a left-wing government with the help of an obstructionist bloc that relies on (Arab MK Ahmad) Tibi and the Joint List (of Arab parties)."
Gantz said in the interview that he would not join a goverment under Netanyahu if the prime minister had been indicted in the corruption investigations against him. He also called on Netanyahu to "step down in a dignified manner."