Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi announced on Wednesdays that he will not run with Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan party in the upcoming election.
Ashkenazi said he is "taking time off to consider his options," and thanked Gantz for their partnership. Ashkenazi stressed that Kahol Lavan offered an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but decided to have an impact from within his government out of "national responsibility."
He added that "moving the discourse away from annexation" is what opened the window of opportunity for peace agreements.
Sources close to Ashkenazi said that he does not completely rule out the possibility that he will run on a different slate.
Ashkenazi's move was not just motivated by the party's likely collapse in the upcoming March election, but also by tensions with Gantz about his leadership style, which he saw as uninclusive. He also expected Gantz to step aside and allow him to take the reins of the party in the next election.
Most of the lawmakers that are still part of Kahol Lavan do not expect that it will run in the March election on its own slate and that most members will quit the party by the time the parties must submit their final slates.
Ashkenazi's departure follows that of Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who announced Tuesday that he is leaving the party.
- Former IDF Chief Eisenkot Decides to Sit Out Upcoming Israeli Election
- The Slow Fraying of Kahol Lavan Has Turned Into a Panicked Flight
- Justice Minister Leaves Gantz, Foreign Minister Expected to Follow Suit
Gantz demanded that Nissenkorn resign from his role as justice minister, and is expected to take over the role himself.
Nissenkorn announced that he would be joining forces with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who is expected to announce his new party Tuesday evening.
Earlier Wednesday, former Israeli military chief Gadi Eisenkot announced that he will not be running in the upcoming election.
Eisenkot considered entering politics, and a long list of party leaders have reached out to the former chief of staff recent weeks – including Gideon Sa’ar, who was one of the sponsors of the law that would keep him out of the cabinet for now.
An election poll published in early December gave a party led by Eisenkot 15 Knesset seats that would also weaken the right-wing bloc.