Opposition leader Yair Lapid said Thursday he wasn't ruling out reuniting with Benny Gantz’s Kahol Lavan party – from which his Yesh Atid faction split after Israel's latest election – but demanded to stay on as leader of the potential joint slate.
“I really don’t want [to do this] alone, I’ll gladly take any possible link-up,” Lapid told Army Radio, a day after a preliminary Knesset vote to dissolve itself, possibly sending Isralis to the polls for a fourth time in two years.
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Lapid added that this time, Kahol Lavan “Should actually put the country first,” quoting Gantz's previous election slogan, and join a slate with Yesh Atid at the helm.
Recent election polls indicate that the public views him as an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Lapid argued. "At the end, the public keeps saying: 'We're done experimenting with stars falling at us from the skies, we need to go with those whose word we can trust. There's no other alternative than Yesh Atid."
"This year has taught us on thing – if we really want to create a change here, we must have at the helm people who we can trust and be sure they won't make a U-turn at the last minute and crack under pressure," he said, hinting at Gantz's decision to join Netanyahu's government, despite a campaign promise not to do so.
According to a Channel 13 News poll published on Wednesday, Netanyahu’s Likud party would remain Israel's biggest party in an election. Yesh Atid would come third, after Naftali Bennett's Yamina party, while Kahol Lavan would shrink to 10 out of 120 Knesset seats.
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24 percent of respondents said Netanyahu was most fit to serve as prime minister, followed by Bennett with 19 percent, Lapid with 14 and Gantz with 13.
Meanwhile, Labor Chairman Amir Peretz announced he plans to run for presidency in July 2021. Speaking on Army Radio, Peretz said "I'm running for president and I definitely think I can fulfill this role."
A mostly ceremonial role with few official powers, two other public figures have so far said they would run for president – former Minister Shimon Shitrit, of Labor Party, and former lawmaker Yehudah Glick, of Likud.
Jewish Agency head Isaac Herzog has not yet announced he would also run for the job, but is working behind the scene to promote his potential candidacy and is considered as having decent chances of becoming Israel's next president.
Other potential candidates are Israel Prize laurate Miriam Peretz, who lost two sons in combat, singer Yehoram Gaon and Health Minister Yuli Edelstein.