Gantz Rules Out Merger With Left-wing Parties: 'No Time for Political Stunts'

Statement comes after Labor Chief Amir Peretz called on Kahol Lavan, Democratic Union to run on a joint ticket in the March 2 election

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Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz speaking during a party faction meeting in Tel Aviv, January 8, 2019.
Kahol Lavan leader Benny Gantz speaking during a party faction meeting in Tel Aviv, January 8, 2019. Credit: Moti Milrod
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Kakol Lavan leader Benny Gantz ruled out on Wednesday a merger with the left-wing bloc ahead of the March 2 election.

Gantz made his statement following an offer made a day earlier by Labor-Gesher Chairman Amir Peretz to join forces.

Speaking in an interview with Channel 2 News on Tuesday, Peretz called on Kahol Lavan and democratic Union to run with his party on a joint ticket in the coming election.  

Peretz said that "As far as the center-left bloc is concerned, uniting is the best option, while preserving the size of the bloc," predicting that the merger of Labor, Kahol Lavan and Democratic Union would garner the bloc at least 44 Knesset seats, while a merger between only Labor and Kahol Lavan would earn 39 seats.

Peretz, however, added that the team-up would be merely technical. "A day after the election, the joint slate will dissolve and each party would end up with the seats it earned. Benny Gantz isn't committed to anything," Peretz added.

The Labor leader didn't categorically reject teaming up only with Democratic Union if Kahol Lavan rejects the initiative, clarifying that the move depends on further examinations.

"I met this morning with lawmaker Amir Peretz and Democratic Union Chairman Nitzan Horowitz, making clear to the both of them that Kahol Lavan will continue being the centrist alternative to rule and that it won't join forces with left-wing nor right-wing parties," Gantz said while speaking in a party faction meeting in Tel Aviv. 

Gantz, however, urged Labor-Gesher and Democratic Union to run on a joint slate.  

"Zionist left parties in Israel must unite. There's no time for political stunts. I expect them to act responsibly and do the right thing," he said.

Peretz said in response that Kahol Lavan has chosen not to embark on a revolutionary path to form a government that will bring about change and hope. "We might wake up to a government in which [Defense Minister Naftali] Bennet, [Transpiration Minister] Bezalel Smotrich and [lawmaker Ayelet] Shaked are dictating the policy," Peretz said, referring to three lawmakers from religious-Zionist parties.   

The Labor-Gesher chief added that his party "will continue looking for the best way to bring about a dramatic change in Israel." 

Following Peretz's remarks, Horowitz said that he would support any merger within the left-center bloc, adding that "the vital, strategic and necessary team-up to create a strong left in Israel is between Labor and Democratic Union. This is what [our] voters hope for, it’s the political and moral move that is required to removing [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu from power."

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