The factions of MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid) and MK Moshe Yaalon (Telem) submitted their requests to break away from the joint Blue and White Party Thursday in response to party chairman Benny Gantz’s candidacy for the Speaker of the Knesset.
Gantz was the only candidate for the position, and the vote for it is scheduled to be held later Thursday. His candidacy is supported by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and all the right-wing parties.
The purpose of the move that Gantz initiated in submitting his candidacy, and not that of MK Meir Cohen, was to prevent the disintegration of negotiations to form a unity government.
Yaalon’s Telem faction and Lapid’s Yesh Atid faction have broken away from Blue and White in protest.
The move appears to signal that Gantz’s willingness to enter a unity government even at the expense of breaking up the Blue and White Party.
In the emerging unity government, Gantz is expected to be Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, with Gabi Ashkenazi to be appointed Defense Minister. The justice portfolio will go to Gantz’s confidant Chili Tropper.
Thus, a Netanyahu-Gantz deal seems to include up to 78 MKs: 58 MKs of the right-wing bloc; 15 MKs of Gantz’s faction; Tzvika Hauser and Yoaz Hendel; Orly Levy-Abukasis; and Labor’s MK Amir Peretz and MK Itzik Shmuli.
According to the deal, Netanyahu promises to make way for Gantz as prime minister in 18 months.