HOW TIMES have changed. Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Likud primaries event several years ago flanked by (from left) Silvan Shalom, Gilad Erdan, Carmel Shama and Gideon Sa’a’ar..
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Merger talks between Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party and former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party are facing problems over the leaders’ refusal to consider a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office, Channel 13 reported Tuesday night.
Another report on KAN indicated that Lapid was willing to accept a rotation and even give Gantz extra time in the Prime Minister’s Office to make the deal.
There was a rotation of prime ministers Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Shamir in a national unity government in the 11th Knesset from 1984 to 1988. When Labor merged with Hatnua ahead of the 2015 election, then-Labor leader Isaac Herzog and Hatnua head Tzipi Livni also decided on a rotation.
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi has been mediating between Gantz and Lapid and reportedly proposed the rotation, but he has been facing serious problems in recent days.
Sources in Yesh Atid and the Israel Resilience Party would not confirm the reports, but said there was still plenty of time ahead of the February 21 deadline for lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee.
Ashkenazi told activists outside his home in Kfar Saba on Tuesday morning that he has been working on uniting parties that would run together and challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud in the April 9 election.
“This is what I am dealing with,” he said. “[Uniting] is always the right thing to do, especially now. The answers will come in the days ahead. Every day matters until the deadline. I hope I will be able to bring good news.”
Polls taken internally by the Israel Resilience Party have shown that Ashkenazi joining could help shift three to five seats from the Right.
But Ashkenazi has made clear that he would not join unless Yesh Atid and Gantz’s party run together.
One possibility that has become more likely is that Ashkenazi would not run for Knesset, but would announce his support for Gantz’s party.
Gantz gave his first interview since entering politics on Sunday to Yediot Aharonot columnists Shlomo Artzi and Hanoch Daum. The interview, which will be published partially on Wednesday and in full on Friday, raised an uproar, because Artzi is a singer and Daum a stand-up comedian.
Media outlets ran reports comparing Gantz to Netanyahu, who is also not giving interviews to the Israeli media and formed his own television team on social media for positive interviews. Gantz’s associates rejected the comparison.
“We are not boycotting the press,” a source close to Gantz said. “We have nothing against the press.”
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