Lapid-Gantz Deal Still Possible, But Time Running Out

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid party. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Israel’s center-left politicians haven’t given up on forming a bloc to defeat Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud in the April elections.

Yair Lapid, chairman of the Yesh Atid party said on Monday evening that efforts to merge with Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party continue.

“The option is on the table. I won’t take it off the table until the last moment. We will leave no stone unturned,” he said, with just three days remaining until law requires all parties submit their final electoral lists.

But Lapid acknowledged that agreement has still eluded them.

Lapid offered Gantz a rotating leadership deal, Channel 12 reported. Israel Resilience would not comment on that. Yesh Atid said only that negotiations are conducted face-to-face “and anyone who claims to know what is being said is wrong and misleading.”

Meanwhile, Meretz reacted with shock at news of a surplus-vote agreement between Yesh Atid and Labor.

Arutz Sheva quoted Meretz as saying, “We were amazed to hear that the Labor Party, which historically has signed a surplus agreement with Meretz, again ran away from the left and chose Yesh Atid, which did not even promise to refuse to sit with Bibi. At every significant juncture, Gabai runs away from the left, and this time it is a colossal irresponsibility that will cost the bloc votes.”

Yesh Atid made public its list on Monday night, which emphasized new faces with security backgrounds, trying to shore up a weakness in the party leadership.

Among others, it features a former IDF major general, Orna Barbivai, who was placed fourth. Barbivai, 56, headed the IDF’s Human Resources Directorate from 2011 to 2014, the first woman to serve on the IDF General Staff.

Another new candidate is Ram Ben-Barak, former deputy director of the Shin Bet security agency, at No. 11; and at No. 12, Yoav Segalovitz, the former head of the Israel Police’s Lahav 433 anti-fraud unit, the department that investigates corruption cases in the high echelons of Israeli government, including the prime minister.

Also on Monday, it was reported that MK Orly Levy-Abekasis’ Gesher party will likely combine with Israel Resilience in the elections.

Gesher sources were quoted in local media as saying that unless something “dramatic” happens, the alliance will go ahead.

This amounts to a reversal for Levy-Abekasis, who last week categorically denied she was in negotiations with Gantz. Days earlier she had slammed Gantz’s party platform, saying it was so badly written that her son could have done better when he was 12, according to The Times of Israel.

She dropped criticism of the platform after Gantz agreed to adopt Gesher’s social justice program, and that the party would be a full partner in negotiations to form a future coalition, and was promised ministerial portfolios related to socioeconomic issues, sources said.