Israel Elections: Moshe Ya’alon drops out due to lack of support

Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari joins Yesh Atid

Former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 14, 2016 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany, February 14, 2016
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon announced  on Monday that he will not be seeking a seat in the next Knesset and that his Telem Party would not run in the March 23 election.
Ya’alon ran with Blue and White in the past three elections after leaving Likud in a dispute with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the outgoing Knesset, Telem was part of the Yesh Atid-Telem faction.
But Ya’alon declined Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s offer to join his party and instead tried to have Telem run independently.
“I believed that with Telem running on its own, we could increase the size of the change camp,” Ya’alon said . “This assumption has been proven wrong. The present political circumstances require that Telem and I not run in the upcoming election.”
Ya’alon added attractive candidates like former science and technology minister Izhar Shay and Prof. Hagai Levine, the former chairman of the Association of Public Health Physicians, but the party never crossed the 3.25% electoral threshold and in most polls did not even cross 1%.
Lapid praised Ya’alon for his decision.
Without Ya’alon, Lapid announced that his top five would be himself, followed by MKs Orna Barbivai, Meir Cohen, Karin Elharar and former Blue and White minister Meirav Cohen.
Lapid announced on Monday that former Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari would be a Yesh Atid candidate.
Ben-Ari lives in Tel Aviv with her daughter. She made news in 2016 when she announced that she was pregnant via in vitro fertilization with a close friend, Ophir, 41, who is gay and who would raise the child with her.
Meanwhile, MK Naftali Bennett announced on Monday that Ashdod City Councilwoman Stella Weinstein would be a candidate on his Yamina list.
Weinstein, 33, is a Russian immigrant leader and represented Yisrael Beytenu on the city council. She was Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman’s chief of staff when he was foreign minister.
She made a name for herself nationally as the leader of the protest movement against closing gyms and health clubs due to the coronavirus. She owns a chain of gyms.
Weinstein was born in Russia and made aliyah at age six. She was raised in Holon.
“Naftali Bennett is good at finding solutions, and he really cares about people,” Weinstein said. “Bennett is a real leader, and as an enthusiastic Zionist and right-winger, I see Yamina as my political home.”
Bennett praised Weinstein as a woman who knows how to get things done and is sensitive to poor people, because she experienced poverty.  
In the past, Weinstein was very critical of the religious establishment on social media. She is considered a secularist, whose views are very different on matters of religion and state than religious-Zionist Sderot mayor Alon Davidi, who joined Yamina on Sunday.