'I Paid a Personal Heavy Price': Diaspora Minister From Gantz's Party Won't Run in Israel's March Election

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Omer Yankelevich in the Knesset in Jerusalem in 2019.
Omer Yankelevich in the Knesset in Jerusalem in 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Diaspora Affairs Minister and coronavirus cabinet member Omer Yankelevich announced on Tuesday that she will not be running in the March 23 election, becoming the latest in a long string of Kahol Lavan Knesset members and ministers to leave the party.

In a Facebook post, Yankelevich wrote that she had notified party leader Benny Gantz that she would not be running in the upcoming election about a month ago. "I personally paid a heavy price," she wrote. "Baseless lies were spread about me, but I chose to ignore the smear campaign and focus on productivity and my true call to public service rather than intrigue and revenge, out of hope that those who come after me will have an easier time.

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"About a month ago, I felt the difficulty increasing. I had already notified the party chairman that I do not intend to run in the next election, but Benny Gantz requested I reconsider," she wrote. "After I had my doubts, I notified him yesterday about my final decision."

Meanwhile, Labor and Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli, of the Labor Party, is likely to announce that he will be joining with Kahol Lavan in the two days remaining to finalize party slates. If Shmuli does run on Kahol Lavan's slate, he will be placed towards the top of the list, which would have pushed Yankelevich into a position unlikely to enter the Knesset, based on projected results.   

Yankelevich is joining Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi; Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn; Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen and Science, Technology and Space Minister Izhar Shay in announcing their departure from Kahol Lavan in recent months. Party Knesset Members Asaf Zamir, Ram Shefa and Miki Haimovich have broken with Kahol Lavan as well.

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