Former IDF chief-of-staff Benny Gantz, December 26th, 2018.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz was prepared with his new party ready when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated an April 9 early election, sources close to Gantz told The Jerusalem Post Thursday night.
Gantz formally entered politics Thursday when the party registrar received the necessary forms for the formation of the party, which will be called Hosen L’Israel in Hebrew and the Israel Resilience Party in English. Sources close to Gantz said extensive work was done to build the party’s infrastructure in recent months but was kept secret.
Sources in the new party would not confirm reports that Gantz intends to build a bloc with former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s new party and socioeconomic figures, and wanted the bloc to also include MK Orly Levy-Abecasis’s new Gesher Party but she turned Gantz down.
Other reports said Gantz called Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and told him their parties could possibly unite at a later stage and that Gantz has decided not to run with former prime minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Tzipi Livni.
Livni has met with Gantz in an effort to build a bloc with the Zionist Union, though reports said she was negotiating for herself. Multiple reports have said that Gantz has decided not to run with the Zionist Union even if he is given the party’s top slot in place of Avi Gabbay, who has fared poorly in the polls.
Possible candidates reportedly considered for top slots on the list include former justice minister Dan Meridor, former Yeruham mayor Michael Biton and socioeconomic activist Chili Trooper, who is a religious Zionist and the son of American immigrants.
According to the documents filed with election authorities, the goals of the party are “the ongoing foundation and strengthening of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in the light of the Zionist dream as expressed in the Declaration of Independence, and through the establishment and redefinition of national priorities in the following areas: education, national infrastructure development, agriculture, law, internal security, social welfare, peace and security.”
The party will be advised in the election by the Ben Horin Alexandrovitz firm which ran the successful Labor leadership campaign of MK Shelly Yacimovich. Gantz met with multiple strategists before hiring the firm.
Polls published this week gave the new party between 10 and 16 seats
, even though it did not yet have a name or a platform on key issues. Five polls taken this week found that it would be the main challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in the race.
Netanyahu responded to the formation of the party by saying “I do not get involved in how the Left divides its votes.”
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