Yair Lapid calls on Benny Gantz to negotiate 'until white smoke'

Lapid is followed on his list by MKs Meir Cohen and Ofer Shelah, retired IDF major-general Orna Barbivai, and MKs Yael German, Karin Elharar, Yoel Razbozov, Elazar Stern and Pnina Tamanu-Shata.

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February 19, 2019 23:34
3 minute read.
Yesh Atid Party Leader Yair Lapid, October 22, 2018

Yesh Atid Party Leader Yair Lapid, October 22, 2018. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

 
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Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid announced his list of candidates with great fanfare at an event in Kibbutz Shefayim on Monday, but he said his party could still run on a joint list with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party.

Lapid is followed on the list by MKs Meir Cohen and Ofer Shelah, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Orna Barbivai, and MKs Yael German, Karin Elharar, Yoel Razbozov, Elazar Stern and Pnina Tamanu-Shata, former Mossad deputy director Ram Ben-Barak, and former Israel Police Investigations Unit head Yoav Segelovich.

Four religious-Zionists candidates were placed in what currently appear to be unrealistic slots, from 16 to 19: MK Aliza Lavie, Tehila Friedman, Philadelphia native Moshe Tur-Paz and Orthodox lesbian Zehorit Sorek. Former MK Dov Lipman left the Yesh Atid Party nine months ago, and decided not to run as a candidate in these elections.

Lapid promised to “leave no stone unturned” in his efforts to reach an agreement with Gantz. But he stressed that the sticking point is not where candidates would be on a prospective joint list but commitments on key issues.

“At this stage, and there isn’t much time left, I haven’t been given the answers,” Lapid said. “Yesh Atid is not a vehicle to pick up Knesset seats – it is a movement with a clear vision. We’re here because we made a promise to make changes to Israel. Our aim is to build a party that will serve as an alternative. The aim is to win.”

Lapid then attacked Gantz for not clarifying his views on key issues.

“A party of government has to have an agenda,” Lapid said. “I can’t believe I even have to explain this. There is no such thing as a party of government without a clear agenda. You can’t go to elections if people don’t know what you stand for.”

Lapid then listed his party’s key issues, including amending the Jewish Nation-State and minimarket laws, passing the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) draft bill, and ensuring that haredi pupils study math and English. He also called for a diplomatic process to enable separation from the Palestinians and a commitment not to sit in a government under an indicted prime minister.

“If we get clear commitments on these issues – which aren’t really that complicated – then we can enter the negotiating room tonight and stay there until white smoke comes out,” Lapid said.


His reference to white smoke (fumata bianca) refers to how the College of Cardinals meeting in the Vatican announce that a new pope has been elected. The phrase was popularized in Israeli parlance by former prime minister Menachem Begin.

“Everything can be arranged,” Lapid continued. “But I want to say something to Benny Gantz from here. Here’s what I’ve learned in seven years in the trenches of politics. You can’t escape from uncomfortable issues. We made that mistake – it doesn’t work. If we get clear answers, then the door is open.”

Gantz is unlikely to accept Lapid’s demands. Negotiations intensified on Monday between Gantz’s associates and MK Orly Levy-Abacassis and her Gesher Party. Gantz offered her four or five realistic slots and a socioeconomic portfolio if Gesher is in the government he forms.

Because she left the Yisrael Beytenu faction without permission, she is not permitted to run for Knesset on a slate that includes a current party. A merger with Yesh Atid would prevent Israel Resilience from running with Levy-Abecassis.

Levy-Abecassis announced a new candidate for her Gesher Party on Monday: venture capitalist and former Intel vice president Dedi Perlmutter.

Labor leader Avi Gabbay reportedly offered the 10th slot on his party’s list to Yesh Atid MK Haim Jelin, but Jelin turned down the offer. The Green Party called upon Gabbay to give the slot to Hatnua MK Yael Cohen-Paran.

The deadline for lists of candidates to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee is Thursday night at 10 p.m.

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