Gantz, Lapid to Meet in Last-Ditch Effort for Unification

YERUSHALAYIM -
Resilience Party head Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid party . (Gili Yaari/Flash90/Flash90)

With the deadline for the presentation of the final lists of candidates to the Central Elections Committee just a day away, Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid is set to meet Resilience Party head Benny Gantz in a last-ditch effort to join the two lists. The two reportedly spoke Tuesday night by phone as they attempted to hammer out their differences, and plan to discuss their differences in person, Hadashot News reported.

Discussions have been ongoing between party representatives for weeks, but so far have not yielded a deal. Sources in Yesh Atid told Walla News that the party was waiting for answers from Gantz on his positions on a number of core issues, including the Nation-State Law, the relationship between religion and the state, and whether Gantz would join a coalition led by Binyamin Netanyahu. According to Resilience, the issue is that Lapid wants to be at the head of the list, seeing himself as the senior politician. However, sources in Yesh Atid said that Lapid had offered to enter a rotation deal with Gantz, with each taking two years as prime minister – but that Gantz turned the offer down.

Resilience is thought to be more interested in a joint run than Yesh Atid, and the party has been inundating social media with messages designed to urge Yesh Atid members to pressure Lapid to make a deal. In a post Wednesday, Gantz wrote that “we can’t let petty differences on the order of work weaken a historic opportunity for change. As I have been repeating, we will do everything not to miss this opportunity for regime change.”

Polls have shown that a united Yesh Atid/Resilience list is the only chance for anyone to unseat Netanyahu; several polls have shown the united list getting 32 seats in the Knesset to the Likud’s 30, meaning that whoever leads the party will get first shot at forming a government.

Meanwhile, the absorption of Orly Levy-Abukasis’s Gesher party is still on the agenda. According to Walla News, Levy-Abukasis would get the third slot on the united list, as well as several slots further down the list for others in her party. But if Gantz takes Levy-Abukasis, he may not be able to take in Yesh Atid. Knesset rules prevent Levy-Abukasis from joining with a party that has already been in the Knesset, because she quit Yisrael Beytenu; she can only join with a party that has never sat in the plenum. Walla News reported that Gantz’s advisers have discussed with her the possibility that she would drop out of the elections altogether, and be appointed to a ministry if Gantz forms a government.