Former Defense Minister and Telem chairman Moshe “Bogie” Ya’alon split off from Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and announced on Sunday that he is running independently in the upcoming elections.
Ya’alon and Lapid merged with Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party in 2019 to form Blue and White but both parties broke off from Gantz after his decision to join Netanyahu’s government following the March 2020 election, renaming their party as Yesh Atid-Telem.
Former science and technology minister Yitzhar Shay, who recently left Blue and White, announced on Sunday he joining Telem as Ya’alon’s “righthand man in creating a political home for liberal democrats in Israel.”
On Motzei Shabbos, Dr. Chagai Levine announced he was joining Telem and resigning from his position as a member of the expert panel appointed by coronavirus czar Nachman Ash and as chairman of the Israel Association of Public Health Physicians.
Anti-Netanyahu protest leader Adv. Gonen Ben-Yitzchak also announced he is joining Telem. Ben Yitzchak is a former Shin Bet officer and is currently head of the “Crime Minister” protest group against Netanyahu, which organizes weekly protests outside the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem.
Gonen was indicted on criminal charges in November related to a protest in July that ended in violent scuffles between the protesters and police. Gonen was charged with attending an illegal gathering (continuing the protest after police ordered it to end) and interfering with a police officer in the performance of his duties.
Ya’alon also introduced other lesser-known figures who joined his party, including a female candidate, an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, and an Israeli-Arab candidate.
However, almost immediately after Ya’alon proudly introduced the Arab candidate, Adv. Ayman Aburiya, a former member of the Chadash party (part of the Joint List party), it was revealed that Aburiya was arrested for suspected bribery two years ago and the case is still open and a future indictment likely. This was quite an embarrassment for Ya’alon who has persistently slammed Netanyahu for being corrupt due to his bribery indictments.
Following the report, Ya’alon dropped Aburiya from his list.
Political analysts are doubtful that Telem will be able to independently win enough votes to pass the electoral threshold, especially since the playing field grows more and more crowded as candidates seem to announce a new party every other day.
Candidates who have formed or rebranded parties in recent weeks include former Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, former Finance Ministry accountant-general Yaron Zelekha, former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, former head of the Mossad Danny Yatom, and Yamina MK Betzalel Smotrich.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)