Gantz rules out merger with any party

Gantz told Blue and White MKs that he told the leaders of Labor-Gesher and Meretz in separate meetings on Wednesday that their two parties must merge together without Blue and White.

BENNY GANTZ (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz rejected a demand from Labor-Gesher leader Amir Peretz to consider having Blue and White, Labor, Gesher and Meretz run on one list, he told a meeting of his faction in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Gantz told Blue and White MKs that in separate meetings with Peretz and Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz on Wednesday morning, he told them their two parties must merge together without Blue and White.
“For Blue and White to lead a government of change and hope after winning decisively in the election, there must be a merger among the left-wing parties,” Gantz said. “I told Peretz and Horowitz that Blue and White won’t merge with parties to the Left or Right. They must act responsibly.”
Peretz said earlier that Gantz had accepted his request to take polls to check whether it would help defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu if the four parties ran on one list.
Citing a Labor poll, Peretz told Gantz a combined list would win 44 seats in the March 2 election. But if Blue and White, Labor-Gesher and Meretz run on three separate lists, Meretz would not cross the 3.25% electoral threshold and the remaining two lists would win only 39 seats. The three lists won 44 mandates in September.
Blue and White’s own in-depth surveys have found that the best situation would be for Blue and White to shift rightward in an attempt to woo voters from Likud and for Labor-Gesher to run together with Meretz. The deadline for submitting lists to the Central Elections Committee is next Wednesday night.
Peretz said the goal should be obtaining 61 seats for the Center-Left without needing Yisrael Beytenu.
“I presented Gantz a framework to replace Netanyahu and his policies,” Peretz said after the meeting. “The ball is now in the court of Blue and White. I want to make sure there will be a political upheaval that will bring change and hope.”
Horowitz said ahead of a meeting with Gantz on Wednesday he did not see his party uniting with Blue and White, but he backed a merger with Labor-Gesher. Horowitz signed a deal with Democratic Union MK Yair Golan on Tuesday, giving him the third slot in the March election.
“An agreement between the Democratic Union and Labor can be reached quickly,” Horowitz said after the meeting with Gantz. “I am glad Gantz agrees with me on this. We are for any merger in the bloc. But the central merger must be between the Democratic Union and Labor. So everything that can be done to advance this bond quickly must be done.”