Blue and White splits into four parts after mergers and trades

Gantz ends up leading 17 MKs, Lapid 16.

Blue and White leader Benny Gantz shakes hands with Blue and White MK Yair Lapid (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz shakes hands with Blue and White MK Yair Lapid
The Blue and White Party, which won 33 seats in the March 2 election, split amicably into four parties and two factions at a meeting of the Knesset Arrangements Committee on Sunday.
Knesset Speaker Benny Gantz will keep the name Blue and White, which will serve the 15 MKs of his Israel Resilience Party. MK Yair Lapid's 13-MK Yesh Atid merged into one 16-MK faction with three MKs from Moshe Ya'alon's Telem Party called Yesh Atid-Telem.
That merger took place after Ya'alon allowed rebel MKs Tzvi Hauser and Yoaz Hendel to break off from the five-MK Telem faction to create a new two-MK party called Derech Eretz. Blue and White and Derech Eretz will formally merge later in the week into a 17-MK joint faction called Blue and White and will be joining the coalition, while Yesh Atid-Telem remains in the opposition.
The breakups and mergers ended up being a victory for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, because Hendel and Hauser are right wing, and along with Gesher MK Orly Levy-Abecassis, who broke off from Labor-Meretz, Netanyahu now has 61 MKs on the Right.
Another change approved in the Arrangements Committee was that Gantz and Lapid traded rebel female MKs. MK Pnina Tamano-Shata left Yesh Atid for the Israel Resilience Party, and Gadeer Mreeh went from Blue and White to Yesh Atid, without sanctions to either MK for jumping sides.
Tamano-Shata told Lapid on Saturday that she thought he was "gravely mistaken" in remaining in the opposition and that Gantz was right to join the government.
"The public's interest is a unity government," said Tamano-Shata. "I am going after my truth."
A source in Yesh Atid called Tamano-Shata's move very disappointing but said no other MK from the party would be defecting.
"She’s abandoned all those who worked with her and fought with her for years," a source close to Lapid said. "We didn’t come to politics for jobs. We came to work for the citizens of Israel."
But Likud MK Gadi Yevarkan welcomed Tamano-Shata, a fellow immigrant from Ethiopia, and said he looked forward to working with her in the coalition.
Gantz faced his first rebellion from among the MKs inside Israel Resilience on Friday, when Mreeh, the first Druze woman in the Knesset, announced she would not join a coalition led by Netanyahu. She vowed that she “will not sit for a day under the indicted [prime minister].” Gantz visited her home in an unsuccessful effort to persuade her to join the coalition.
More fights among MKs who ran in Blue and White are expected this week, when votes on pro- and anti-Netanyahu bills are raised in the Knesset.