Openly Gay Ex-mayor, ultra-Orthodox Woman Among New Candidates Joining Gantz's Party

Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz is continuing his bid to establish a strong slate for his party Hosen L'Yisrael

Benny Gantz delivering his maiden political speech.
Tomer Appelbaum

Seven new candidates will run for the Israeli Knesset as part of Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael party ahead of the April 9 general election, including an openly gay ex-mayor, an ultra-Orthodox woman and former Tel Aviv deputy mayor Asaf Zamir.

Hosen L'Yisrael announced Thursday that former Yisrael Beiteinu lawmaker Moshe Matalon will join its ranks, alongside Eitan Ginzburg, the first openly gay mayor who lost the vote in Ra'anana during the October election.

Ultra-Orthodox activist Omer Gilinsky Yankelevitch will run on the party's slate as well as the head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, Alon Schuster, former Culture and Sports Ministry's Director General Orly Fruman and Gadi Yevarkan, who used to head the pre-military leadership academy Be'eri.

>> Gantz's party looking to diversify slate, which has no women or non-European Jews

The entrance of former Tel Aviv deputy mayor Asaf Zamir, first announced Wednesday, was formally declared Thursday as well. Zamir is expected to receive a slot just below the top 10 on the party's electoral slate. 

Zamir, who is 38, has been a member of Tel Aviv city council for the past decade. He was deputy mayor to Mayor Ron Huldai until municipal elections in October, in which he ran unsuccessfully for mayor against Huldai. During the campaign, Zamir and Huldai become totally estranged and associates of the mayor said he had been personally hurt by Zamir.

Last week Gantz presented seven candidates for his party's Knesset election slate, including television journalist Miki Haimovich; Yoaz Hendel, a former spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Zvi Hauser, a former cabinet secretary to Netanyahu; activist Meirav Cohen; former head of the Israel Electric Corporation Orit Farkash-HaCohen; and former Yeruham mayor Michael Biton.

Hosen L'Yisrael was previously criticized for not having women or non-European Jews on its slate. Haaretz reported after Gantz launched his campaign with a long-awaited speech that the party is aware of its homogeneity, and is working towards bringing women and Mizrahis (Jews of Middle Eastern descent) onboard.