General (Ret.) Gabi Ashkenazi, former IDF Chief of General Staff and Chairman Of The Board of the Rashi Foundation at the 7th Annual JPost Conference in NY.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the top potential candidate to be enlisted into politics who remains out of the fray, continued to play hard to get on Wednesday, as at least four parties continue to pursue him.
Ashkenazi is being sought by the leaders of Yesh Atid, Labor, Hatnua and fellow former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party. They all view Ashkenazi as a political game-changer who could advance their respective parties significantly.
Channel Ten reported Wednesday night that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid had met with Ashkenazi on Friday and offered him “decisive influence” over the party’s decisions, along with the second slot on the Yesh Atid list and a senior ministerial portfolio.
A Yesh Atid spokesman would not confirm the report, merely saying that “Lapid meets with all the relevant people, and the reason they keep meeting him is because he does not talk about it in the press.”
Gantz is reportedly waiting to draft Ashkenazi before delivering his first public address since entering politics two weeks ago. Since then, the only public statements in his name have been eulogies for author Amos Oz, former defense minister Moshe Arens and lone soldiers champion Tzvika Levy.
Sources close to Gantz vigorously denied reports that he had planned to deliver a major address in Jerusalem on Thursday or that it was postponed, due to the extended time it is taking him to recruit candidates for his list.
Reports Wednesday said Gantz wants former Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council head Alon Shuster on his list. Shuster has been Gantz’s friend for decades, ever since they began basic training together in the IDF.
But Shuster has also made dovish statements in the past that could hurt Gantz. He said he was willing to give his home to Hamas for true peace with the nearby Gaza Strip. He also praised the Gaza Strip disengagement plan and endorsed concessions in Jerusalem.
Shuster would not confirm or deny that he has been offered a Knesset seat. He said he was currently enjoying his life outside of politics.
Another former IDF chief of staff who has formed a party, Moshe Ya’alon, received an endorsement on Wednesday from the Abu Alkian clan from the town of Hura, which is leaving the Labor Party en masse. A member of the clan is expected to be on the list of Ya’alon’s party, Telem.
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