Former Israeli Army Chief Gantz Near Cementing His Ticket for the April 9 Vote

If Benny Gantz’s predecessor as chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, joins the slate, he is expected to receive the No. 2 slot, or at least join the cabinet if the party enters the government

Benny Gantz at a ceremony for the incoming Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, Tel Aviv, January 15, 2019.
Motti Milrod

Benny Gantz, the former army chief of staff and leader of a new centrist party, has chosen a dozen or so people to top his ticket in the run-up to the April 9 general election, political sources said.

These candidates have a decent chance of making it into the Knesset. According to polls released early this month by the Israel Television News Company and Kan public television, Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael party would receive 12 to 14 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. It would trail Prime Minister Benjamin Netayahu’s Likud at 28 to 31 seats.

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As expected, Gantz is first on the slate, meaning he would be the first to win a seat if his party passes the 3.25 percent electoral threshold, or four seats.

Political sources have mentioned three names expected to be on the ticket: educator Chili Tropper, former Yeruham Mayor Michael Biton, and Alon Schuster, a former head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.

If Gantz’s predecessor as chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, joins the slate, he is expected to receive the No. 2 slot. Another alternative would be that Ashkenazi would not run for the Knesset but could serve as a cabinet member from the party if Hosen L’Yisrael is part of the next governing coalition.

Sources are also mentioning two other people who would make the ticket’s top 10 if they joined the party: former newscaster Miki Haimovich and former Tel Aviv Deputy Mayor Asaf Zamir.

For its part, Hosen L’Yisrael said it does not comment on any of the many names that have been raised in recent weeks.

About 10 members of the outgoing Knesset, some of whom had announced that they would not seek re-election, have approached Gantz or his associates seeking a spot on his slate, sources said. But all of them were told the party is not eyeing legislators from the outgoing Knesset.

Two possible exceptions would be Orli Levi-Abekasis, who broke away from Avidgor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu to form her own party, Gesher, and whom Gantz is interested in recruiting, and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

Talks between Gantz and Ya’alon, who has formed his own party called Telem, are stalled at the moment over two main sticking points: Ya’alon’s refusal to join a cabinet headed by Netanyahu, and his demand that he return as defense minister if Gantz is the next prime minister.