Livni calls on Center-Left to form bloc to take down Netanyahu

Levi-Abecasis and Ya'alon announce plans to form two new parties ahead of April elections.

Tzipi Livni addresses a faction meeting, November 12th, 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tzipi Livni addresses a faction meeting, November 12th, 2018
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni begged her fellow leaders of the Center-Left on Tuesday to act unselfishly in order to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the April 9 general election, as two new parties were announced earlier in the day.
Speaking at an event of the Israel Democracy Institute and Interdisciplinary Center, Livni said Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit’s forthcoming ruling on Netanyahu’s criminal cases could help decide the election and create an opportunity for her camp to win if it handles the race smartly.
“All those who are partners in our path and who declare that they are putting the good of the state first, must also be a partner to unifying us,” Livni said. “We can form a larger, winning team, but all of us must set our egos aside for our joint goal of a political upheaval. We must say first state, then party, then ourselves.”
But key figures Livni was referring to appeared to go in the opposite direction on Tuesday when they took steps toward forming parties that could make it harder to defeat Netanyahu’s Likud.
Former Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy-Abecassis announced on Tuesday night that she would officially form a party on Wednesday that will be called Gesher, the same name as the party led by her father, former foreign minister David Levy, in the 1990s.
Speaking on Channel 2, Levy-Abecassis said Gesher would focus on bridging societal gaps and fighting for underprivileged sectors of the population.
Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon also announced Tuesday that he was forming a party. His spokesman said the name of the party and its candidates would be revealed in upcoming days.
KAN Radio reported that former IDF Brig.-Gen. Gal Hirsch would enter politics and be a candidate on Ya’alon’s list. But Ya’alon’s associates said the list would be varied and not dominated by security figures.
In a Facebook video, Ya’alon said he will be leading a “new political force” for the election, “which is so incredibly important for the future of Israel.”
“On the list that I will present soon, I will present you with the good, moral Israel with clean hands. It will be a party without any spin,” the former Likud minister said regarding the candidates with whom he will be running for Knesset, adding that he will choose experienced and trustworthy candidates.
Ya’alon called on other parties to form alliances to present an alternative to the current government.
“This is the time for us to take responsibility. My entire life I’ve been a soldier of the country,” he continued, adding that “the time has come for a different leadership.”
Channel 10 reported Tuesday night that Zionist Union leader Avi Gabbay offered the top slot on his party’s list to Benny Gantz but the former IDF chief of staff turned it down. Sources close to both Gantz and Gabbay denied the report, in what was seen as a sign that Gantz may decide to form his own party in the coming days.
Meanwhile on the Right, former minister Gideon Sa’ar, who was seen as a potential rival to Netanyahu, reiterated that he would run in the Likud primary and stand behind the incumbent.
“I am not a threat to Netanyahu,” he said. “I strengthen Netanyahu.”
The primary for the Likud’s Knesset list is expected to take place February 5. The last Likud primary was won by Gilad Erdan, followed by Yuli Edelstein, Israel Katz and Miri Regev. They will all be top candidates in the current primary, along with Sa’ar.
Uri Bollag contributed to this report.