New ‘Blue and White’ Party: Gantz PM, Lapid Foreign Minister, Yaalon Defense

YERUSHALAYIM -
A combination of file photos shows Benny Gantz (L) and Yair Lapid (R). (Reuters/Amir Cohen/Nir Elias/File Photo)

Details of the deal between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid for their joint run for the Knesset emerged Thursday afternoon. The new party, consisting of Gantz’s Resilience Party, Lapid’s Yesh Atid, and former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon’s Telem Party (which had previously joined with Resilience) will be called Kachol Lavan, or Blue and White, representative of the colors of the Israeli flag.

Of the first 30 slots on the party’s list. Lapid will get 13, which he can assign to members of Yesh Atid. Gantz will also get 13, with the remaining four going to Yaalon. Gantz will head the list, with Lapid as number two. Gantz will be prime minister for the first two and a half years of the government’s set five-year term, with Lapid taking the second two and a half year “shift.”

For the first part of the government’s term, Lapid will be Foreign Minister, and Yaalon will be Defense Minister.

The logo of the Blue and White party.

A specific position has not been set for former Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who earlier Thursday was officially named to the united list. Ashkenazi will be fourth on the list, and media reports Thursday said that it was he who pushed Gantz and Lapid to join together. Following Ashkenazi will be Histadrut head Avi Nissenkorn.

One of the conditions of Lapid joining the party was apparently a commitment by Gantz that he would not join a government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, should the latter be chosen to form the next government. A report in Yediot Acharonot Thursday said that Gantz had agreed not to join a Netanyahu-led government before the prime minister had a hearing before the state attorney in the event the latter recommends he be indicted – which could happen as soon as next week, political sources said.

Meanwhile, still “unhoused” in the movement to unification is Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, which polls have shown is unlikely to pass the electoral threshold in the new era of bigger parties. Both Netanyahu and Gantz have sent out feelers to convince him to join their side. Kahlon reportedly turned Gantz down. A Likud official quoted by Yediot Acharonot said that negotiations were ongoing with Kahlon. “It’s complicated, but there is a chance we can succeed,” the source said.