Former Israeli Army Chief Ashkenazi Says Working Toward Gantz-Lapid Unity

Benny Gantz has been courting Gabi Ashkenazi for his Hosen L'Yisrael party, yet Ashkenazi is seeking to predicate his entry into politics on Gantz's party joining forces with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid

Former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi at a national security conference in Tel Aviv, January 27, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

Former Army Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday that he is actively working to form a center-left joint slate ahead of the April 9 Knesset election, saying that unity is "what's needed right now."

It has been reported in recent weeks that Benny Gantz, the head of the new Hosen L’Yisrael party and a fellow former chief of staff, is hoping to recruit Ashkenazi to his party. At this stage, Ashkenazi is seeking to predicate his entry into politics on Gantz’s party joining forces with Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. 

Ashkenazi, who has not spoken publicly on the issue previously, made his remarks to the group behind a recent ad campaign with the slogan "Without unity, your vote is lost." The group is advocating that the heads of parties on the center-left join forces.

“I can't argue with you over the need for unity,” Ashkenazi told the group. “I’m really working for this. That’s what I'm doing, that’s what’s needed right now. In this regard, what you're doing is very important. Every moment, up to the last, is really important.”

Sources at Gantz's campaign headquarters said that even if the parties don't run on a joint slate, they believe Hosen L'Yisrael will obtain Ashkenazi's support – whether as a Knesset candidate for the party or otherwise.

Lapid said last month that if a joint slate of several center-left parties is formed, he would not be prepared to forgo the top spot on the slate.

If Ashkenazi decides to join one of the parties or the joint slate, election rules require that he do so by February 21, the last day for finalizing candidate lists.

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