Yair Lapid Courts Left-wing Voters, in Advanced Talks to Join Forces With Tzipi Livni

Livni is reportedly prepared to join with Yesh Atid without gunning for number one slot on a unified Knesset roster ■ Lapid concludes he needs to boost strength within center-left bloc after failing to court center-right

Lapid and Livni at the Knesset in 2014
Reuters

The political parties Yesh Atid and Hatnuah are holding serious talks on running a joint ticket in the upcoming Israeli election. Respective party leaders Yair Lapid and Tzipi Livni met about the possibility several times over the past few days since Labor Party chairman Avi Gabbay decided to split up his party’s alliance with Hatnuah.

Officials in Yesh Atid said the meeting was "excellent, and many more will come." Hatnuah responded by saying: “Without relating to this or that meeting, it’s no secret that Livni is in favor of connections between parties and forming one large bloc to create a turnover.”

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Lapid and Livni met about 10 days ago. Livni is reportedly prepared to join with Yesh Atid and is not demanding the number one slot on a unified Knesset roster, which Lapid does want.

Over the past two weeks, the Yesh Atid chairman has concluded he needs to increase his strength within the center-left bloc, after his failure over the past three years to gain ground by expressing right-wing opinions.

Lapid reportedly sees unifying with Livni as the opportunity to win the rest of the seats from the Labor Party, and to significantly pull ahead in the opinion polls of the new Hosen L’Yisrael, headed by former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz, and then propose to Gantz to run with him as an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Livni reportedly very much wants to run jointly with another party. She says she has a bloc of five or six parliamentarians that will come with her to any party, and could turn Gantz’s or Lapid’s party into a large party to rival Likud.

Hosen L’Yisrael is said to be very pleased with its political situation at this point. According to the opinion poll published last week on Channel 10 news, in which 38 percent of those asked wanted Gantz as prime minister as opposed to 41 percent who preferred Netanyahu, gives the party a feeling that it’s working correctly, and that it will earn more Knesset seats down the road.

Hosen L’Yisrael is reportedly considering running jointly with another new party, Telem, founded by former Likud Defense Minister and Israeli army chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, or Orli Levy-Abekasis’s party, Gesher, and does not want to join Livni.

By law, if Gantz runs with Levy-Abekasis, he won’t be able to bring in an existing party like Yesh Atid or Hatnua, because Levy-Abekasis did not resign from the Knesset after she left Yisrael Beiteinu and established her one-woman faction.