Achi Israeli party leaders Adina Bar-Shalom and Gideon Sheffer at a party event, December 2018.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The Achi Israeli party that was seen as a possible launching pad for former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz broke apart over the weekend after former Yeroham mayor Michael Biton left in a leadership dispute.
Biton was initially supposed to lead the party, and its honorary president was going to be Haredi College of Jerusalem founder Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of the late Shas mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
But then Bar-Shalom decided she wanted to enter politics and lead the Achi Israeli list. She and Biton also disagreed over whether to negotiate with other parties about merging and running together now or later.
The leadership of the party agreed with Bar-Shalom to negotiate only after elections are called. Biton decided to leave and seek other political pastures.
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gideon Sheffer will now chair the party but Bar-Shalom will be its top candidate for Knesset. Bar-Shalom’s goal will be to become education minister.
“Due to strategic disputes related to leading the party, Michael Biton decided to leave Achi Israeli,” the party said in an official statement. “Achi Israeli is working to create a new discourse in Israeli politics and is talking to all those in Israeli politics who share that goal.”
Gantz’s associates said he is leaving open the possibility of running in new and existing parties, as well as founding his own party. He has already obtained the necessary signatures required to submit to the party registrar.
But Gantz will not decide his political future until the Knesset is dissolved a date for the next election is formally set.
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