Gesher chair Orly Levy-Abekasis during a speech launching her party's campaign, March 3rd, 2019.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/ MAARIV)
When asked, “What are you? Right or Left?” Orly Levy-Abekasis, leader of the Gesher party, responded, “I’m in the place that the people need me in,” in an interview on Friday night on the Israeli talk show Sharon and Rani screened on Channel 13.
The question rose up after Sharon, one of the hosts, told Levy-Abekasis “I have a problem with you, because until you say whether you’re going with Benny [Blue and White leader Benny Gantz] or Bibi [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] you can’t receive my vote.”
When Levy-Abekasis would not say if she belonged to the right or left-wing blocs, Sharon insisted that if she wanted the votes of right-wing voters she’d have to say “I’m going with Netanyahu.”
“I place before everything the issues of the people,” Levy-Abekasis responded, mentioning the healthcare system, which she said was collapsing. “5,000 people die unnecessary deaths in hospitals from unsanitary conditions. Do we not need to treat them when it’s not deaths in road accidents or deaths in terrorist incidents? So we don’t count them. I count them. It’s no different whether you’re left or right.”
Rani, the other host on the show, mentioned that whenever they show who’s present at Knesset meetings, her name is on the list. “She’s always there,” Rani said.
Sharon insisted that people will not vote for her until she picks a side. “You’re not here or there. Who are you going to recommend?”
“I don’t have extra affection for Gantz or Bibi,” Levy-Abekasis responded. “The content is what defines things, not the persona. Social issues don’t interest either one of them.”
Sharon mentioned that Levy-Abekasis had reportedly made a deal with Gantz, meaning that she would have more incentive to side with him. “There are specific things which concerning them neither Gantz nor Bibi is believable.” Levy-Abekasis responded. “I said that it was appropriate to sit and see who the person is who stands before us. Who’s the new hope of the public?”
When challenged on whether she would pass the election threshold, Levy-Abekasis said, “I won’t just pass the election threshold, I’ll be the surprise of the elections.”
Sharon also referenced Levy-Abekasis’s former affiliation with Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, asking her if she thought it was a mistake. “If I thought it was a mistake to join with Liberman that would mean that I’d have to nullify all the laws I passed. I passed dozens of laws during this time that aided in the lives of people, including at-risk children and youth.”
Sharon finished off the interview with a series of yes or no questions. When asked about legalizing marijuana, she responded “Not legalization, regulation.” Concerning sovereignty over Judea and Samaria, Levy-Abekasis responded, “Annexation? Life is much more complicated than black and white. When we talk about millions of people that we’ll annex, will we give them rights and what rights? The social rights worth billions of shekels? If we have it let’s give it to the disabled and the elderly.”
The Gesher party has fluctuated over and under the election threshold. In a recent Smith Research poll, Gesher received 3% of the vote, just under the 3.25% electoral threshold.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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