In yet another sign of the deep dissent and incompatibilities in Blue and White, Former IDF Chief of Staff and number four on the party list, Gabi Ashkenazi, told a party supporter that former Histadrut chief Avi Nissenkorn was a “problematic” personality for the party, because the public saw him as likely to concede to labor on nearly all issues if, as expected, he were to be appointed Finance Minister in a Benny Gantz-led government.
Army Radio on Tuesday played recordings of Ashkenazi speaking the night before at a Blue and White event in Rishon Lezion. In the recording, a woman is heard telling Ashkenazi that she was considering voting for Blue and White, but hesitated to do so because she did not want to see Nissenkorn as Finance Minister. Ashkenazi replies that “we are aware of this problem, you are not the first one to raise this point. We do not intend to implement the economic program of the Histadrut. Neither we, nor Nissenkorn, will be implementing a policy in which workers’ committees make the big decisions.”
In a statement, Blue and White said that “Avi Nissenkorn is a social leader who has led the struggle to raise the minimum wage for workers, to integrate workers with disabilities, and to ensure the rights of security guards and cleaners of homes and offices. He is a responsible leader, and during his term as head of the Histadrut, there were no major strikes. Blue and White supports free markets, in a manner that will ensure that citizens enjoy the public services they are entitled to – education, health, and welfare. The cooperation and collaboration between all members of Blue and White, including Ashkenazi and Nissenkorn, has been respectful and productive.”
At the event Monday night, Ashkenazi also responded to another set of recordings revealed by Channel 12 – in which he is heard calling party head Gantz a “donkey.” The comments were made on the background of the appointment of Gantz as Chief of Staff, a move Ashkenazi opposed but was promoted by then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Ashkenazi wanted to promote the current Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkott, to the position back then.
Commenting on those recordings, Ashkenazi said that the report had “taken my comments out of context. They keep trying to make us look bad, and they take out recordings from ten years ago. My copies of the recordings, like those of the Defense Minister, were not properly kept – they were cut off, the tapes were cut, some burned up in a fire. I know the truth. When I am alone with my staff I might speak differently than when I am in public because I feel protected. Maybe I said some inappropriate things, but they were said privately among friends,” he said.