After Tanking in Polls, ex-Defense Minister Ya'alon Quits Ahead of Israel's March Election

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Moshe Ya'alon at the Knesset, September 13, 2020
Moshe Ya'alon at the Knesset, September 13, 2020Credit: Adina Walman / Knesset
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said on Monday he will not be running in Israel's election in March.

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In a statement, Ya'alon said the best interest of Israel always came before his personal gains, and that he felt that "the current fight is over the very soul of Israel and Israeli society.

But in the current political circumstances, he added, his Telem party will not run. "I call everyone to take part in the election," he concluded, warning not to vote for "those who would forsake the hope for change in return for sitting beside an indicted man. Give your vote to a leadership that is not corrupt."

Ya'alon, a former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff as well, ran for three election campaigns with Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan, before leaving the party after Gantz joined a coalition with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which Ya'alon refused to do.

After the government was formed, Ya'alon joined forces with another disappointed Gantz partner, Yair Lapid. The two later parted ways, and Ya'alon's Telem has not passed the electoral threshold in any poll since. 

Second major departure in two days

This comes after former Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn, who left Kahol Lavan to join Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai's party, informed his new ally on Sunday that he has decided to "take a break from political life."

Nissenkorn was second on the party's election roster, and resigned as justice minister in December after Netanyahu and Gantz allegedly reached a quid pro quo deal which would see his powers curbed. 

In his statement, Nissenkorn said that at a time when the center-left bloc needs alliances in order to survive, and suffers from a saturation of candidates and parties, " I have decided that it is better to step aside and take a time out." Nissenkorn also expressed his appreciation for Huldai and the other members of the alliance.

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