Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen announced Tuesday that she is leaving Defense Minister Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan and joining Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid. Cohen is the eighth lawmaker or minister to leave Gantz's party in the past two weeks.
Cohen is expected to be positioned high in the Yesh Atid slate ahead of the upcoming election in March, Israel's fourth in about a year.
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Cohen submitted her resignation from Knesset and from the cabinet. Both will go into effect after 48 hours.
Sources close to Cohen said she initially preferred that Kahol Lavan merge with Yesh Atid and not with Naftali Bennett's Yamina, which she believed Gantz was considering. Cohen "really appreciates Benny, and is sorry that it has come to this," a source said.
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Avi Nissenkorn resigned as justice minister last week after he announced that he was joining a party established by Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai. Nissenkorn scolded Gantz for allegedly reaching an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "on the politicization of the appointment process for the attorney general and state prosecutor."
In addition to Nissenkorn, two other ministers and three lawmakers from Kahol Lavan also left the party: Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi; Science Minister Izhar Shay; the chairman of the Knesset's Education, Culture and Sports Committee, Ram Shefa; and lawmakers Asaf Zamir and Miki Haimovich.