Former Military Chief Benny Gantz to Head New Political Party, Report Says

130 founding members have officially signed up to Gantz's party, which recent polls predict would win over 14 Knesset seats

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, speaks with then Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, Haifa, Sept. 11, 2013.
AP

Former military chief Benny Gantz has decided to head his own political party, rather than join an existing one as number two, the Israel Television News Company reported on Thursday night. 

According to the report, 130 founding members have officially signed up to Gantz's party. The report added that if Gantz is to join an existing party, he would do so with his list, rather than as an individual candidate.

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The new party's registration form has yet to be submitted to the state party register. It will probably be filed, the report says, after a date for the next general elections is announced. However, the party is reported to already have a name, which has not been made public yet.

Elections are slated for November 2019, but may be pushed forward following political turmoil in government with the resignation of former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman last month.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Gantz in his office last week. According to Netanyahu's aides, he consulted with Gantz on security affairs ahead of taking on the position of new defense minister.

Various public opinion surveys conducted in recent months predict an independent party headed by Gantz would win over 12-14 Knesset seats

Opposition party Zionist Union would get 24 out of 120 Knesset seats should Gantz head it, according to a recent poll published by the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, compared with 15 seats with current chairman Avi Gabbay.