As defense, finance and justice ministers, Benny Gantz, Avigdor Liberman and Gideon Sa’ar, respectively, were chief engineers of the Lapid-Bennett government’s achievements.
The three are poised to take on leading positions once again, should they become members of the next coalition.
Gantz and Sa’ar are Nos. 1 and 2 of the newly branded National Unity Party, which brought in former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot as its No. 3.
The party is expected to come in third in the November 1 election, but Gantz may have the best chance of becoming the next prime minister. No parties, including the haredi ones, have completely ruled him out, and after three-and-a-half grueling years and five elections, Gantz believes that he is the man Israel needs in order to bring stability to the system.
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Is this realistic?
Gantz and Sa’ar plan to form a government without the “extremes” – the Religious Zionist Party, on one hand, and the Joint List, on the other. But after categorically ruling out a joint government with the Likud as long as it is led by Benjamin Netanyahu, they may not have the numbers to push through.
Time will tell whether they will have enough power to pry away some Knesset members from the Right camp – be they disgruntled members of the Likud or perhaps one of the haredi factions.
Liberman is entering the holidays after pulling off a last-minute deal with the mighty Teachers Union and enabling the school year to open on time. His tenure as finance minister saw Israel enjoy a budgetary surplus and nearly full employment. His office was a central part of import and agricultural reforms that were sorely needed.
Liberman, though, was also accused at times of being too stingy, and managed to irk some of his political partners. The opposition accused him of being especially harsh on the haredi parties, and the Likud and Shas launched vicious campaigns blaming him for the high cost of living.
Will he weather the storm? All eyes are set on November 1 for the answer.