Former IDF chief of staff and defense minister, MK Moshe Bogie Yaalon announced on Monday that he would not run in the upcoming March 23 elections, based on his dismal poll results.
Yaalon explained: “I believed that with Telem’s and my independent run we could increase the power of the camp dedicated to change. This working assumption turned out to be wrong. In the new political circumstances, the struggle for change requires me and Telem not to run in the upcoming elections.”
Telem (Hebrew acronym for Tnua Leumit Mamlakhtit – National State-Rule Movement) is a center-right political party formed by Yaalon in January 2019 in time for the April 2019 Knesset elections, having left the Likud party in protest of his removal from office by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (he was replaced in Defense by Avigdor Liberman, who has since dedicated his career to eliminating Netanyahu from politics). Telem eventually joined the Blue & White alliance, which the two factions left in March 2020 to form a united opposition faction named Yesh Atid-Telem.
Since the separation from Lapid, Yaalon has added to his party former minister Yizhar Shai, who left Blue & White, Prof. Hagai Levin, former chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians, and Gonen Ben Yitzhak, one of the leaders in the protest against the PM.
Yaalon did not endorse anyone in his announcement, despite the fact that an endorsement from him could boost any of the group of politicians united under the banner of “anyone but Bibi.” Instead, the retired politician who likely derived most of his clout from his partnership with the Yesh Atid party, said, “On March 23, we will all go to the polls. I call on all of you to take part in the elections. You must keep your eyes open and make sure that you don’t give your vote to those who will abandon the hope for change in exchange for sitting in the shadow of an indicted criminal. Give your vote to a clean leadership,” he advised, again not mentioning where such a miraculous leadership might be found.
Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who is also tittering over the abyss of the 3.25% threshold, commented on Yaalon’s announcement, saying: “Lt. Col. (Res.) Moshe Bogie Yaalon is an important public leader who has contributed much to the state and will contribute much more. I’m sorry to see his retirement. The emerging political map shows a clear victory for the ideological right, and I hope that all the leaders in the center-left camp know how to unite in the proper way in the few days left until the lists are to be submitted.”
Those Knesset lists must be submitted by Monday night, Thursday, February 4, and Yaalon could have done a lot to help a fellow center-right warrior who also quit the Likud party, Gideon Sa’ar, head of the New Hope party. The “emerging political map” shows Sa’ar and Lapid vying for the floating votes—roughly 20% of the voting public—to establish themselves as the second-largest faction in the 24th Knesset, behind Netanyahu’s Likud. Naftali Bennett’s Yamina is trailing behind these two, slowly sinking back to the traditional top-figure for the heirs of the historic National Religious party: 12 seats. If the many different splinter groups to the right of Likud manage to unite in time for Thursday, they could be rewarded by the voter with the highest gift possible – 12 seats. If the run in two, there, or even four lists, they could all end up below the threshold and watch the next couple of years on television with the rest of us.
Now let’s all watch Naftali Bennett, Bezalel Smotrich, Hagit Moshe, and Itamar Ben-Gvir cut off their noses to spite their faces.