Avigdor Liberman, Chairman of Israel Beiteinu, was seen on Tuesday having a private lunch with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, Ynet reported Wednesday.
On Monday, Mayor Huldai announced, amid election threats following the lingering budget dispute inside the Likud-Blue&White coalition government, that should the Knesset be dissolved as a result of those clashes, he would run in the fourth election campaign in less than two years.
“What is happening in the country today terrifies me,” Huldai said. “Especially the social, economic and moral issues.”
That’s a whole lot of terrify.
Huldai said, “It’s time to do a healing for Israeli society. I cannot stay away, but since we are not yet going to new elections for now, I need to recalculate my route.”
Which stands to show you that at 76, Mayor Huldai can both torture the Hebrew language like any hi-tech whippersnapper by choosing the Anglicized “to do a healing” over the simple “to heal” (Le’ra’peh); and mix GPS lingo into his speech like he just got off an exhausting fight with his Waze lady.
What distinguishes the Ynet report from a duck is the anonymous public opinion poll that was distributed over the past 24 hours, in which respondents are asked to choose among the leaders of the parties running to the Knesset.
The list includes the usual suspects: Netanyahu, Ganz, Lapid, Deri, Litzman, Bennett and Amir Peretz, but also included “a new party led by Avigdor Liberman with Ron Huldai and other personalities.”
Now you understand why it’s so important to know that Liberman and Huldai had lunch together on Tuesday.
Ron Huldai served in the Air Force from 1963 to 1989, retiring with the rank of Brigadier General. Starting out as member of the Labor Party, Huldai was first elected mayor of Tel Aviv in 1998, was re-elected in 2003 with 62% of the vote, again in 2008 with 50.6%,, in 2013 with 53% and yet again in 2018 with 47%.
Liberman’s Israel Beiteinu currently has 8 seats in the Knesset, and the polls give it about the same number of seats if new elections were held today. Huldai could offer the party a portion of the “floating votes” at the center of the map, both Likud and Lapid disenchanted voters. Historically, most new parties appealing to the floating undecided make a nice killing their first time around, only to lose the advantage to the next shiny thing.