At the end of negotiations that lasted into the night, Benny Gantz, leader of Israel Resilience, Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid, and Moshe Ya’alon of Telem agreed on Thursday morning to unite, based on a rotation agreement: Gantz will serve as prime minister for the first two and a half years, and then be replaced by Lapid.
Former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi will join the united party and be placed in fourth place on its Knesset slate.
This brings the number of former IDF commanders on the new slate to three, making it the most militaristic party since Augusto Pinochet.
About Ashkenazi: in August 2010, the media exposed a document written by a high-ranking IDF reserves officer named Boaz Harpaz, through which the media claimed Ashkenazi was trying to improperly influence the choice of the next chief of staff. The police and the state comptroller began investigating the affair. Ashkenazi denied his ties to Harpaz, but his tenure was not renewed and he was replaced by Benny Gantz.
In May 2012, the state comptroller asked the attorney general to open a criminal investigation against Ashkenazi. In August of that year, based on the findings of the comptroller, the military advocate general recommended an investigation of Ashkenazi on suspicion of fraud and breach of trust. In August 2013, the attorney general decided to open a criminal investigation of Ashkenazi. In January 2016, the attorney general decided to close the cases against Ashkenazi, but noted that Ashkenazi and his staff had been gathering information to discredit then defense minister Ehud Barak.
According to a statement issued after the signing of the agreement between Gantz and Lapid, “The new ruling party will post a team of new security and social leaders that will ensure the security of the state, and will reconnect the fractions of the nation and the divided Israeli society.”
In the meantime, Orly Levy-Abekasis announced Wednesday night that she would run alone, and attacked the conduct of Gantz and his party, saying “his men acted against me and he kept silent.”
“It’s a shame that the man who is expected to run Israel is revealed as a being run by others,” she attacked, noting that Gantz is so inexperienced in the game of politics that he actually asked her to wait on hold while he is working on his union with Lapid – essentially revealing that he needed her for leverage,
“I have no other word to describe this behavior but strange and hallucinatory,” she said.
Gantz’s side responded: “Orly Levy is an important leader. Unfortunately, she chose to leave the dialogue unilaterally. We respect her decision.”
Also in the meantime, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the union of Jewish Power and Habayit Hayehudi, which he believes increases the chances of the slate to enter the 22nd Knesset past the 3.25% threshold.
Netanyahu reached an agreement with the heads of the two right-wing parties on a technical block and promised them two ministerial posts in his future government.
Moshe (Bogie) Ya’alon, chairman of the Telem party, the third wheel in Gantz’s and Lapid’s troika, condemned Habayit Hayehudi for “bringing Kahanists into the next government.”
Jewish Power follows the teachings of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane HY’D, and two of them were active in his party.
“I’m sure Shamir, Begin and Jabotinsky are turning over in their graves,” Ya’alon told a campaign event audience on Wednesday. “Is that what we wanted? That the Kahanists, who wave the flag of ‘Death to the Arabs,’ lead the State of Israel?”
“Why does Netanyahu do this?” the former IDF chief of staff and Netanyahu’s defense minister until he was fired asked, and answered: “Political survival.”