Gabi Ashkenazi: The mandate magnet

#16: Gabi Ashkenazi

Gabi Ashkenazi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Gabi Ashkenazi
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
If Israeli politics had a “Rookie of the Year” award, it would unquestionably go to Blue and White MK Gabi Ashkenazi.
Who else can claim such immediate success, right out of the starting gate? His colleagues in Blue and White have had their ups and downs. He has had only ups.
Ashkenazi’s political career started with him being the successful shadchan (matchmaker) who brought together Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid to form Blue and White. He had made it clear that he would not enter politics unless they agreed to create a political alliance, and they couldn’t say no to him.
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Fighting inevitably continues in Blue and White. Ashkenazi has played the role of the responsible adult who has helped the party overcome its internal disputes.
Ahead of the September 17 election, Blue and White strategist Israel Bachar decided the party could receive a boost from announcing that Ashkenazi would be its candidate for defense minister.
The announcement was purposely made the day before the election in order to maximize its effectiveness. Gantz announced it, and it made him look like a winner, with momentum heading into the big day.
“Ashkenazi is a former IDF chief of staff and Golani soldier who rehabilitated the IDF following the Lebanon War,” Gantz said in his announcement. “Gabi knows how to restore deterrence and a sense of security to Israeli citizens in the South, in the Gaza border communities, in the North and throughout the country.”
He could have added that Ashkenazi is a political asset who campaigned all over the country, and who attracts traditional Likud voters in the periphery because he is seen as a man of the people.
There have been reports that Ashkenazi made an agreement when he entered politics that he would take over Blue and White after Gantz. Regardless of whether those reports are true, his leadership cannot be denied.