Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope party have signed an agreement to run as a joint list in the upcoming elections scheduled for November 1, they announced Sunday evening.
Denouncing extremist elements, Gantz said at a news conference that the two parties would embark on establishing a government that was “responsible, realistic, secure and liberal.” Such a coalition, he said, “would say no to racism and no to extremism and yes to unity across the country and all kinds of citizens…Orthodox, Orthodox and secular; no to racism and no to extremism. Muslims, Christians, Druze and Jews.”
“Israel deserves better,” Gantz said, adding that voters “should not choose from among the extremists,” but instead deserve a sane central choice.
This was likely a reference to parties such as the Arab-majority Joint List or the far-right religious Zionist, led by Bezalel Smotrich, including Itamar Ben Gvir, who heads the far-right Otzma Yehudit faction within the party. Ben Gvir entered the Knesset in the March 2021 elections after merging Otzma Yehudit with religious Zionism, in a deal brokered by then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in an effort to bolster right-wing votes.
For too long, Gantz said, Netanyahu has dragged the Likud party into positions that undermine national unity and harm Israel’s democratic principles.
“We are laying the foundation stone for the next government,” Gantz said. He called on other groups “consistent with our values” to join their union. Its goal, he said, is to unite “all those who support a Jewish, democratic and secure Israel.”
Gantz said he believed the Joint List could appeal to “as many people on the right as statesmen” who are looking for a political home.
“From the moment I entered politics, I’ve said over and over again that we are in an unprecedented and illogical situation,” Gantz said of the ongoing political impasse. [Israel’s] Date.”
Israel’s November 1 elections will be the country’s fifth national vote since 2019.
An unreleased Channel 12 report said Sunday that Gantz and Sa’ar had decided their party would not sit in a government with Netanyahu, but while Gantz has denounced the Likud leader, neither he nor Sa’ar has explicitly excluded him from being a potential partner in the next coalition.
In his speech on Sunday, Grantz praised the outgoing multi-party coalition headed by Naftali Bennett until last month, but said a few members on its fringes got him out of the way. Bennett’s unlikely alliance of right-wing, centre-left parties and Islamists lasted nearly a year before disintegrating, and was ultimately faltered by the sound. Departure One of the key lawmakers from Yamina Bennett’s party.
Speaking after Gantz, Sa’ar said Israel “needs new hope and a way out of this crisis.” He said that he and Gantz dedicated their lives to the State of Israel and agreed to join efforts to create a “broad, national, center-right” electoral list.
Sa’ar also said that Gantz – who will come first in the merged party – is the ideal candidate to lead the next government.
Blue and White currently holds 8 seats in the 120-member Knesset; New Hope has 6.
In recent polls, which have not necessarily been reliable, Blue and White is set to get about 8-9 seats and New Hope 4-5.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid welcomed the news, saying he believed in the good intentions of Gantz and Sa’ar.
Lapid tweeted: “Good luck to Benny Gantz and Gideon Sa’ar.” I am convinced that your intentions are good. I look forward to continuing to work with you on behalf of the citizens of Israel.”
Lapid’s Yesh Atid party ran with Gantz’s Blue and White party in the April 2019, September 2019 and March 2020 elections. Gantz then decided to join a coalition headed by Netanyahu, causing the parties to split. They have been separated ever since.
As for their joint slate, Gantz and Sa’ar are said to be hoping to woo former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, who is treated badly by Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and seen as a major draw for either party due to his great fame. and general popularity.
Eisenkot would take third place if he chooses to run with the Blue, White and New Hope faction, according to reports in Hebrew media.
Eisenkot, who was chief of the military staff from 2015 to 2019, is believed to have the potential to attract voters from both the left and the right. The retired general was one of the most sought after during the March 2021 election cycle, with his name linked in reports for a number of parties, but he eventually decided not to run.
The remaining places at the top of the Joint List will be occupied by Immigration Minister Pina Tamanu Shata (Blue and White), Culture Minister Chile Trooper (Blue and White), Education Minister Yifat Shasha Biton (New Hope), and the Knesset Economy Committee. According to reports, President Michael Peyton (Blue and White) and Housing Minister Ze’ev Elkin (New Hope).
Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel and MK Zvi Hauser, whose party Dirich Eretz joined New Hope after splitting from the Blue and White alliance, are unlikely to have a place on the list, although it is not clear which side made the announced decision.
It was reported that Hendel in conversations With Yamina’s new leader Ayelet Shaked to join forces, according to public broadcaster Kan.
In a Facebook post earlier on Sunday, Hendel said he has no regrets about his time in the position and believes he has stuck to his principles. “I will work hard to ensure that the right-wing, statesmen-like voices have a respectable representation in the next Knesset,” he wrote. “I promise to update you soon.”