by Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
New platform calls for "ensuring an uncompromising commitment to Israel's national security," but critics say party will lead to hasty territorial concessions and endanger Israel
Blue and White Chairman Benny Gantz
The Blue and White party led by former Chief of General Staff Benny Gantz pledged a policy of separation from Palestinians on Wednesday, but stopped short of backing their goal of statehood.
Blue and White has refused for weeks to provide specifics on its ideological posture, as it gained ground in opinion polls ahead of the April 9 election.
In its inaugural platform, published on Wednesday, Blue and White said that once in power it would confer with Arab states "and intensify the process of separation from the Palestinians, while ensuring an uncompromising commitment to Israel's national security".
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and fellow rightists have cast Blue and White as a left-wing party rather than centrist, warning that it will pursue a policy of territorial concessions like the 2005 pullout from the Gaza Strip, which Netanyahu says paved the way for terrorist group Hamas' takeover of the enclave.
The policy blueprint envisages Israel retaining control of the Jordan Valley and blocs of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria but remains hazy on what might be done with more isolated outposts.
U.S. President Donald Trump is widely expected to make public a peace plan after the Israeli election.
Opinion polls give Blue and White around 35 of parliament's 120 seats against 30 for Netanyahu's Likud party, but even if the projections are accurate, Netanyahu has a much better shot at forming a government and winning a confidence vote in the Knesset.
In 2009, Netanyahu's Likud party came in second to the centrist Kadima party but ultimately managed to form a government because of the overall strength of the right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.
According to analysts, the only viable scenario for Gantz to become prime minister, if there is a de facto tie between the Left and Right in the Knesset, is by relying on outside support from Arab parties, who would presumably vote with him in a confidence vote.
But Blue and White has insisted it would not pursue that option.
Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter