Former military chief jumps into politics in Israel

JERUSALEM (AP) — A popular former Israeli military chief says he is running for office in the upcoming election.

Retired Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz registered his new party, "Israel Resilience," on Thursday.

Gantz has been polling favorably in recent weeks, emerging as perhaps Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strongest challenger. Even before officially entering the fray, polls have shown his hypothetical party coming in second to Netanyahu's ruling Likud.

Israeli elections have been called for April 9.

Gantz has yet to lay out his worldview or political platform but flaunts stellar security credentials and a squeaky-clean image to contrast Netanyahu's corruption-laden reputation.

Though still short of the kind of support likely needed to become prime minister, his candidacy captures a yearning in Israel for a viable alternative to emerge to challenge the long-serving Netanyahu.