In a last-minute coup for his Likud party on Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu signed Gadi Yevarkan, until now with Blue and White, to run with Likud in the March election.
It was estimated that Yevarkan took tens of thousands of Likud voters with him when he left to join Moshe Yaalon’s Telem, which merged with Benny Gantz’s Blue and White, and Netanyahu hopes they’ll come back with him.
The Ethiopian-born Yevarkan’s decision to join Likud was made after the prime minister promised to step up the government’s efforts to help the Ethiopian community.
The deal will also help Yevarkan, who was No. 33 on the Blue and White list, and was promised No. 20 on the Likud list, replacing the outgoing Moshe Kahlon, although he said he is only concerned with what’s best for the country.
“It is no secret that I have criticized the prime minister in the past but what drives me is only the future of the state and the future of the community that has trusted me time after time,” Yevarkan said. “I have an ethical obligation to my dear community to resolve their urgent problems.”
In response to the news, Yaalon said that Yevarkan’s “behavior testified to his values.”
The campaign’s Russian language spokesman Andrey Kozhinov will take his place on the party list.
The deadline for filing is Wednesday at midnight.