Israel's Ya’alon, Now Seen as Bland by the Right, Unlikely to Link With Fellow Ex-army Chief Gantz

Sources in Gantz's newly founded party say Bennett's establishment of his own new party will likely foil attempt for Ya'alon to win over right-wing voters

File photo: Former defense minister Moshe Ya'alon speaks at an event in Jerusalem, December 27, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

Chances are fading that former army chiefs Benny Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon will run on a joint ticket in the April 9 election, because Naftali Bennett’s establishment of a new party has erased the right-leaning Ya’alon’s luster as a candidate, people in Gantz’s new party say.

Still, Gantz’s party, Hosen L’Yisrael, has not made any major decisions yet, only 50 days before Knesset candidate rosters must be submitted.

Gantz and his advisers believed at first that Ya’alon would be an attractive alternative for right-wing voters disappointed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. They would give Hosen L’Yisrael an additional two to three seats in the 120-seat Knesset.

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Now, after Bennett and Ayelet Shaked split from Habayit Hayehudi to form their own party, Hayamin Hehadash, Gantz’s associates say these votes will go to Bennett and Shaked.

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Spokespeople for the Labor Party have told the media that contacts between them and Gantz are drawing closer following the rift in Zionist Union on Tuesday, when Labor Party chief Avi Gabbay announced a split with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah.

But sources close to Gantz deny this, saying that Gantz is communicating with Gabbay’s people as he is with all the political parties.

Gantz has said he does not want to be identified with the left, and an association with Livni would make it very difficult for him to distance himself from the left.

A more attractive link for Gantz is Orli Levi-Abekasis, the head of the new Gesher party. But Levi-Abekasis reportedly does not seek to run with Gantz at this time.

Sources speaking for Ya’alon declined to comment, though Gantz’s Hosen L’Yisrael said that “there is much speculation. The Gantz effect is changing the political sphere; beyond this we have no comment.”

Gantz registered his party Thursday but has not spoken publicly about his next moves. On Saturday, Ya’alon said he would not enter a coalition government headed by Netanyahu.