Gantz loses out on Levy's Gesher, aims for merger with Lapid

Final party lists for the April 9th election must be submitted to the Elections Committee by Thursday night.

Orly Levy Abecassis (L) and Benny Gantz (R) (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS & MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Orly Levy Abecassis (L) and Benny Gantz (R)
The efforts to create an alliance on the Center-Left that could pose a threat to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will go down to the wire, ahead of Thursday night’s deadline for lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee.
The bloc will not be joined by MK Orly Levy-Abecassis’s Gesher Party, after she accused Israel Resilience Party leader Benny Gantz of mistreating her as they negotiated a possible agreement. She revealed that she had reached a deal in principle, but after Gantz asked her to wait while he negotiated with Yesh Atid, she decided to instead run independently with Gesher.
“It is so disappointing to find that the man who proclaimed that there would be a new, clean kind of politics failed his first test of credibility,” Levy-Abecassis said. “It is unfortunate to find that the man who was expected to lead Israel has turned out to be a man led by others.”
Levy-Abecassis called Gantz’s behavior “strange and delusional.”
Israel Resilience responded to Levy-Abecassis’s attack by calling her an important leader and lamenting that she unilaterally left the talks between the parties.
She announced the list of candidates for Gesher, which does not cross the electoral threshold in most polls.
The list includes former Pensioners Affairs Ministry director-general Gilad Semama, former World Intel vice president Dedi Perlmutter, former diplomat Dan Shaham, educator Haggai Lavie, former Construction Ministry director-general Hagai Reznik, and Prof. Yifat Bitton.
“I promised that Gesher would present an impressive list, with a variety of quality candidates who are real public servants,” Levy-Abecassis said. “They are people who would wake up every morning to fix the system and change priorities for your benefit.”
Gantz and his associates continued negotiations until late into the night with Lapid and his Yesh Atid Party at the Savyon home of a neighbor of Lapid aide Hillel Kubrinsky. Sources in both parties expressed hope that an agreement would be completed Thursday but said there was no guarantee it would happen.
Disputes remained over the platform of the joint list and whether there would be a rotation in the Prime Minister’s Office in case of an election victory. Another sticking point is that Lapid does not want to sit in a government led by Netanyahu following an indictment pending a hearing, and Gantz does not want to make such a commitment.
KAN reported that one possibility being considered was to unify the parties “organizationally” yet still run on two separate lists.
“We are far away from an agreement, but the gaps are bridgeable,” a source familiar with what was happening in the talks said. “The direction is positive.”
Israel Resilience-Telem candidate Yoaz Hendel told The Jerusalem Post that there were no major differences between the parties on key policies and principles.
“I can’t provide anything concrete, of course, but, just like Benny [Gantz] promised, he is fully committed to making this happen,” a source close to Gantz said.
The Likud mocked Gantz for not reaching an agreement with Gesher, saying that after his cybersecurity company went bankrupt, he again ended up with nothing in the bank. Netanyahu’s party said Lapid and Gantz would be able to form a government only if they rely on the outside support of Arab parties.
Labor Party leader Avi Gabbay also mocked the prospective deal between Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience.
“The merger of Lapid and Gantz won’t lead to an upheaval and won’t give the bloc a single extra vote,” Gabbay said. “Their views are amorphous. I hope voters in the bloc come to us instead.”
Former prime minister Ehud Barak wrote on Twitter that “everything is secondary to the goal of putting Israel back on track, to have a prime minister who serves us and not the other way around.”
He said an agreement between Gantz and Lapid could result in a new government and “an end to abandoning citizens, to corruption and racist messianic extremism.”
Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon told Channel 12 that he would prefer that Netanyahu form the government, but he added that “if Gantz is not a leftist and is part of the nationalist camp, I can sit under him.”
The fate of Haredi College of Jerusalem founder Adina Bar-Shalom remained undecided Wednesday night. She has negotiated with Gantz and is waiting for the outcome of his talks with Yesh Atid.
A Walla poll Wednesday found that if Lapid and Gantz run together, the joint list would win 34 seats and Netanyahu’s Likud Party would win 33 seats. Yet if they run separately, the Likud would win 31 seats, Gantz 19 seats and Yesh Atid 13 seats.