Gantz Says Would Run as Lapid’s No. 2

YERUSHALAYIM -
Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Benny Gantz followed up Tuesday on his call for a rebuilt center-left coalition, acknowledging that running with Yair Lapid again would mean that he would not be at the head of the ticket.

“I do not delude myself that I will be prime minister after the election,” Gantz told the Kan public broadcaster. “I intend to sit down with anyone who is interested to see what the mechanisms are that will allow a joint run in the Knesset that will prevent a loss of votes, and so that Netanyahu can eventually be replaced.”

“Yair has come a very long way in Israeli politics and he can stand at the head of the [center-left] bloc. He has come a long way, and if that is what we decide then yes,” Gantz said, leaving open the possibility that he might yet regain his leadership position.

Gantz has so far been snubbed by the party heads he reached out to on Monday, who have refused even to come to a meeting to discuss the matter on Tuesday evening, according to Channel 12.

A political source told The Times of Israel that “serious people know how to manage serious negotiations and it isn’t through the press.”

Gantz publicly invited Lapid, Ron Huldai (The Israelis), Moshe Yaalon (Telem), Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu), Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), Itzik Shmuli (Labor), and Yaron Zelekha (New Economic Party) to come to a meeting in order to “search for and find the way.”

Lapid was non-committal in his response; Liberman suggested that if he wanted to help the country, he should quit politics.

However, as The Times of Israel pointed out, Gantz has one thing that will make his overtures difficult to ignore: money.

Whatever the weakness of his Blue and White party in the polls—now down to 4 or 5 seats—he is entitled to 1.138 million shekels in state funding for each of the 14 MKs he entered the coalition with. That’s over 15 million shekels that he will be of great value to any center-left campaign to take down Netanyahu.