Two Kahol Lavan lawmakers agreed with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz on Sunday that they would not run with his party in the next election.
Both Asaf Zamir and Miki Haimovich annonced their decision to leave Kahol Lavan after voting against extending the deadline for passing the state budget. The failure of that measure ultimately lead to the dissolution of the Knesset last Tuesday.
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Zamir's announcement came after he and Gantz held a personal meeting. Gantz wished Zamir the best of luck in his future endeavors.
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"Today, Benny Gantz summoned me to a meeting and told me that after my vote last week, I will not be on Kahol Lavan's roster for the next election. I have no regrets and I stand by my decision," Zamir tweeted, in reference to a Knesset vote last week, in which Zamir voted
"We parted ways as friends and I thanked [Gantz] for the trust he had placed in me and I implored him to do whatever it takes to unite the center-left ahead of the election," Zamir added.
Later on Sunday, Haimovich also announced she would not be running with Kahol Lavan in the next election.
"I've met with Gantz today and we've agreed to terminate our political path and that I would not run with Kahol Lavan in the next election. I stand by this decision," Haimovich said.
"I feel great relief that my vote led to the dissolution of the Knesset. The ideological diffrences between me and Gantz have deepened and have become irreconcilable and I assumed that I won't run with Kahol Lavan in the next election," she said.
"I have a quiet conscience and I'm proud of how I voted, aiming to prevent Netanyahu from buying more time as prime minister, after six month in which he managed the country solely according to his personal and political interests."
"I thank Gantz for his partnership and trust, and I'm grateful for having the privilege to head the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee. I wish Gantz the best of luck," Haimovich added.
In October, Zamir, who served as Tourism Minister at the time, announced his resignation from the government, citing lack of trust in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his leadership.
Earlier on Sunday, Israeli Agriculture Minister Alon Schuster of Kahol Lavan said that Gantz would make a final decision in the coming days regarding his political future.
Speaking on Israeli public radio, Schuster added that the party will support Gantz if he is elected to lead it for the upcoming election.
“We will be with Benny Gantz,” Schuster said. “He is blamed for making bad decisions, but I'm telling you, we made the right ones. We will continue on in a statesman-like manner, even if we pay a price for it." He added: "One of the most important aspects of this election cycle will be the joining of forces. There is no reason for the center-left to lose votes."
Also speaking in a radio interview with Israeli public radio, Zamir later said that the party should get behind the candidate with the best chance of winning, adding that Gantz is not that candidate. “The most deserving person is the one who has the best chance,” Zamir said.
When asked if Gantz was the most deserving candidate to form the next government, he replied, “When I look at the political situation, I think that in this round, at this point, I’m not sure that is the case."
"At this point we must examine who has the best chance and get behind him." Zamir added that he would not run for Knesset if things don't change. "There are many people I love there," he said. "I really admire Benny Gantz. I won't run in the coming election if things remain as they are now."
Last week, Gantz held talks with Likud to prevent the dissolution of the Knesset, and had agreed to curb Justice Minister Avi Nissenkorn’s powers in bid to stave off elections and cement the rotation agreement for the premiership with Netanyahu.
However, he reneged on the understandings he reached with the prime minister under pressure from his colleagues and out of fear that they would break up the party.