BOMBSHELL: Lapid and Gantz Unite in Bid to Topple PM Netanyahu: Launch “Blue & White” Party

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From L to R: Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon, Israel Resilience leader Benny Gantz, Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi on February 21, 2019

Following prolonged negotiations, less than 12 hours ahead of the deadline for submitting party lists, the Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience parties reached agreement to combine lists and run on a joint slate in the upcoming Knesset elections, set for April 9. According to recent polls, the joint party would top Likud for the most votes and pose a serious threat to end Binyamin Netanyahu’s decade-long run as Prime Minister.

The deal was signed just before 6:00AM Thursday morning, with the parties telling the press, “Out of a sense of national responsibility, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Boogie Ya’alon decided to establish a united list that would constitute the new ruling party of Israel.”

“Something went wrong this past decade. Israel has lost its way,” Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff, said on TV Thursday night. “Instead of separation, we offer unity. Instead of extremism, we offer patriotism. Instead of incitement, we offer national reconciliation.”

According to the agreement, if the party wins the election and receives the presidential mandate to form a government, Gantz will serve as prime minister until November 2021 and Ya’alon will be defense minister during that time. Then, Lapid will become prime minister and Gantz will assume the role of defense minister.

In addition, members of the joint party announced that Gabi Ashkenazi would join the list and be placed in fourth place. This is now a party with three retired IDF Chiefs of Staff, Gantz, Ashkenazi and Ya’alon, giving it an astounding measure of credibility in the eyes of many voters.

According to their agreement, 13 of the first 30 positions will go to Yesh Atid and 12 positions will go to Gantz.

“A winning team needs to be led. I wouldn’t be standing here today if I didn’t believe that Benny Gantz could lead us to victory and then lead the country,” said Lapid.

The list as released by Blue & White on Thursday afternoon:
1. Benny Gantz
2. Yair Lapid
3. Moshe Ya’alon
4. Gabi Ashkenazi
5. Avi Nissankoren
6. Meir Cohen
7. Miki Haimovitz
8. Ofer Shelach
9. Yoaz Hendel
10. Orna Barvibai
11. Michael Biton
12. Chili Troper
13. Yael German
14. Tzvi Hauser
15. Orit Farkash-HaCohen
16. Karin Elharrar
17. Merav Cohen
18. Yoel Razvozov
19. Assaf Zamir
20. Yizhar Shai
21. Elazar Stern
22. Miki Levi
23. Omer Yankelovitz
24. Penina Tamanu
25. Radir Mariach
26. Ram Ben-Barak
27. Alon Shuster
28. Ram Shefa
29. Boaz Toporovsky

Ashkenazi has long been working behind the scenes to make the union happen, urging the major players to put their egos aside in favor of the bigger challenge ahead. He announced he was joining the new party himself because of the “pivotal moment and the national task at hand.”

The news is of real concern to the Chareidi parties, since they will not join a coalition in which Yair Lapid is a member, especially when he is part of the senior leadership, which raises the fear that they will once again sit in the opposition against the leadership of Lapid.

It should be noted, even if the joint list surpasses Likud at the ballot box, it is not guaranteed to form the next government unless it can garner a Knesset majority by forming a collation with other parties. But the dramatic merger seems enough to make the election a real fight for Netanyahu.

“For the first time since 2009, we have a competitive race for the premiership and this is the result of the emergence of this new centrist force,” said Yohanan Plesner, a former lawmaker and president of the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute.

“There are now, as a result of this unification, two, I would say, legitimate major parties … (but) it’s not a done deal,” Plesner said. “I think Netanyahu is still more likely to win and to emerge as prime minister at the end of this election campaign, but it is a competitive race.”

The Likud said in response: “The choice is clear – either Lapid-Ganz’s left-wing government with the support of a block of Arab parties or a right-wing government headed by Netanyahu.”

Netanyahu himself has taken a hard turn to the right in recent days to shore up his electoral base.

On Wednesday, he postponed a trip to Moscow to meet President Vladimir Putin to stay home and reach a preliminary election deal with two fringe religious-nationalist parties, Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit, in a bid to unify his bloc.

It should be noted that against the backdrop of the unification, Eldad Yaniv of the New Country party said: “We will not run for the Knesset when a real opportunity is created to end Netanyahu’s corrupt and inciting government, against which we fought for two consecutive years in the streets. Now, the time has come to succeed at the polls!”

(AP / YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)




19 COMMENTS

  1. Well, even though I’m not a leftist, I am so fed up of Netanyahu taking for granted his position & staying as the grand ruler ignoring our needs & just wanting to please the outside world that I am going to vote for them, and I’m sure there will be plenty like me. We are fed up of Netanyahu & want a change.

  2. Netanyahu is desperately reaching out to the outright racists on the far-right of the political spectrum to shore up his fragmenting coalition. He also reached out to the far-right European leadership only to be sabotaged by his own little Ketzalah who called out the Poles for their pervasive anti-semitism. Hopefully a center-right coalition can be formed after the election with rational technocrats restoring some civility and progress in Israeli politics.

  3. The left is uniting and bringing popular figures (Ganz, Ashkenazi et al) on board while the right is fragmented, facing criminal investigations and making some desperate moves (Otzma Yehudit anyone?). And with the formation of a large party that is posing a real alternative to the Likud, voters of some small centrist parties – such as Kahlon’s and Orly Levi’s parties which were already barely going to make it into the Knesset – may abandon them for the new party, driving those parties out of the Knesset and leaving the Likud with very few potential coalition partners.

    It looks like the political pendulum may be swinging to the left. The good news is that the left will have a hard time forming a coalition itself without either relying on the Arab parties (which it almost certainly won’t do) or bringing at least one charedi party into the coalition. Which may get pretty interesting.

  4. “This is now a party with three retired IDF Chiefs of Staff, Gantz, Ashkenazi and Ya’alon, giving it an astounding measure of credibility in the eyes of many voters.”

    Really? How so? By being experts in bombing empty fields? By bombing empty buildings? By allowing rockets from Gaza to rain into Israel unabated? By talking tough but doing absolutely NOTHING about it? By capitulating to John Kerry and his buddies at the UN? These 3 incompetent bafoons have done untold damage to the stability of the secular state of Israel.

  5. not getting involved, your role as a military strategist must have been short-lived. these three men rose through the ranks of the IDF and represent what leadership looks like. the inclusion of kahanists with a collection of crooks like deri, litzman, netanyahu gives voters a real choice.

  6. Bombshell? Two center-right parties united to form an anti-religious right-wing alternative to Likud. However unless they win a gigantic victory they will be forced to ally with left-wingers or religious, both of which are incompatible with their ideologies.

  7. gg –
    It is a bit perplexing why you choose to read this website, which caters, ostensibly to the Yeshiva world.
    You state clearly that you will vote for an avowed hater of Torah based on your dislike for Bibi.
    Bnei Torah generally vote based on the advice of the Gedolim, not emotions.
    Bibi is no paragon of integrity, but to suggest that Lapid is even half as honest is ludicrous.

  8. gg,
    “just wanting to please the outside world”

    Seriously!? So you really think that aspect will be better with the left?
    Whether you like Bibi or not, he has done a better job than anyone before him, he has reached out to plenty other countries , he has built up a solid coalition against Iran and Hamas, (Egypt, Saudi’s etc..). He is hated based on his success, hence all the investigations.
    His corruption is basically typical “politics” in any other country…

  9. Menachem Begin ZTKLLH’H and Bibi Netanyahu are 2 best prime-ministers by far, that Israel has ever had. Time will prove my assertion correct. It is so critical, that Netanyahu continue his legendry work as prime-minister.

  10. Gaon & Co.: You most possibly were not among those whose homes were literally showered for 2 days straight with over 500 missiles & dear Bibi did not lift up a finger to defend us, evnthough the army was ready to go into Gaza & stop their game. He was too concerned what will the outside world day, so he chose not to lift up a finger & it was only through the nissim of Hakadosh Baruch Hu that we were spared, NOT Bibi’s grandeour. And by the way, I wonder if you are all aware that the kites & weekly protests by the Gaza fence are back like before?

  11. Dear GAON
    You are so right. Never has Israel prospered in all aspects including especially regarding warming up relations with long time muslim enemy countries, as it has with Bibi in charge. It is clear as chicken soup without lokshen (remember “the talking coins”?) that the only reason that can be for disliking his leadership is only due to personal hatred and jeallousy. And the same thing is happening right here in the USA with this uncontrollable deep hatred the losing side of the previous presidential elections has towards today’s president.

  12. Hymie…..you question why anyone who doesn’t agree with your right-wing political agenda or doesn’t vote in lockstep with one of the religious party slates shouldn’t be here on YWN. Whether you accept it or not, there are many in the frum tzibur (and here on YWN) who believe EY can do much better with new political leadership drawn from a more centrist political perspective and including those who consider themselves frum and secular as is the case with the Ganz/Lapid coalition. Netanyahu has shown himself to be an unprincipled opportunist who is quick to grab a kipah and make a shivah call or have a photo-op with a chashuvah rav but has managed to alienate much of the world other than his efforts to become a Trumpkpopf wannabe.

  13. Are people tired of the present stability and want some leadership change ?probably so
    there is nothing wrong with change- as long as it’s in the right direction
    nobody should kid themselves this is going in the right direction
    Boogie maybe all right but the ones pulling the strings are all pulling left
    we don’t need one string guitars Akuperma who economics is the only thing in the world preaching that this is anything but left