'People Will Follow Me': Gantz Insists He Is Only Centrist Who Can Form Gov't

The Kahol Lavan chairman says he won't not run with opposition leader, but both welcomed the prospect of ex-chief of staff Eiskenkot entering the fray

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How times have changed: Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid at a Kahol Lavan meeting, December 12, 2019
How times have changed: Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid at a Kahol Lavan meeting, December 12, 2019Credit: Moti Milrod

Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz and opposition leader Yair Lapid gave interviews to Israeli media Saturday night in which they both insisted that they would helm the center-left bloc in the event of an early election, with Gantz saying that Lapid would be unable to form a government.

In interviews to Channels 12 and 13 News, Gantz said his Kahol Lavan party will be the biggest and will form the next government. “I lead Kahol Lavan and shall continue leading it. Only I can form a unity government. I’m willing to cooperate with anyone who will join us; I’m going ahead and people will follow me.”

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Gantz said he would not run with Lapid again on a joint slate, saying “everyone knows” his former political partner “cannot form a government.”

Addressing the possible entry into politics of former IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, Gantz said: “I respect Gadi. I’d be very happy if he joined, certainly if he joined us. I’m in touch with him and time will tell.”

In an interview with Channel 13, Lapid said that one large center-left party will be formed, and he would lead it. He added that he intends to resubmit a bill to preclude a criminal defendant from being asked to form the government, to block Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from continuing to serve as premier.

Asked if he would relinquish the top spot, he replied: “I agreed when it was necessary, I don’t think it will be required again. We’re the bigger party, and we’ve proved that only we can be trusted not to join forces with Netanyahu.” He added that while he may meet with Gantz, the latest polls give Yesh Atid nearly twice the votes as Kahol Lavan.

Lapid said that he had spoken with the head of Telem, Moshe Ya’alon, before the latter announced his intention to run separately in the next election. “I don’t think that this is something directed against me. He feels he can attract more votes by going alone. I think it’s a mistake, but a legitimate one.”

He said he intends to continue cooperating with Ya’alon at the moment. He too welcomed the apparent entry into politics of Eisenkot, saying he would be happy if Eisenkot joined Yesh Atid.

Lapid added that Netanyahu has forgotten one thing. “On February 12, I can again propose a bill stating that someone facing criminal charges cannot be a prime minister, and I intend to do so.”

He said that he believed Kahol Lavan would support the bill this time. “Everything that can be passed should be. It’s very undesirable for a prime minister to serve with criminal charges hanging over him.”

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