Israeli Ex-army Chiefs Ya'alon and Gantz Negotiate Joint Knesset Bid

The two are looking into joining forces ahead of April 9 elections, but discussions focus on setting up two separate parties to run as a unified list

File photo: Moshe Ya'alon (L) and Benny Gantz (R), September 20, 2015.
Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry

Two former Israeli army chiefs Moshe Ya'alon and Benny Gantz have discussed over the past several weeks running on a joint ticket in the upcoming April 9 election. Their discussions focused on setting up two separate parties, which would run as one unified list.

Since leaving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party over two years ago, former defense minister Ya'alon has repeatedly said he was looking to team up with others.

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Yair Lapid, chairman of Yesh Atid party, proposed to him the second spot on the Yesh Atid list along with a commitment to joint leadership and several more spots on the list reserved for Ya'alon's people. Ya'alon declined the offer, preferring to head his own party.

Ya'alon sees former underling Gantz as a potentially significant ally in a bid to establish a centralist, moderate party with an emphasis on security issues.

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Gantz, too, decided against joining existing parties, but hasn't ruled out teaming up with outsider political players, such as Ya'alon or the newly founded Gesher party, led by independent MK Orli Levi-Abekasis, who resigned former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu in May 2016.

A source familiar with the negotiations between Ya'alon and Gantz said that "Gantz mostly listens and doesn't talk much." Indeed, Gantz has yet to give Ya'alon a clear answer, as negotiations and meetings continue.

Ya'alon declared on Tuesday, a day after coalition heads announced their intention to dissolve the Knesset, that he was launching his own party.

Ya'alon did not name the party, but in the announcement he made on Twitter Ya'alon proclaimed,"This is our time to take responsibility. The time has come for different leadership."