Blue and White minister Meirav Cohen joining Yesh Atid

Harvard, Oxford and South African educated candidate to replace her in Knesset.

Meirav Cohen and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, January 5, 2020 (photo credit: ELAD GUTTMAN)
Meirav Cohen and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, January 5, 2020
(photo credit: ELAD GUTTMAN)
Social Equality Minister Meirav Cohen (Blue and White) is joining Yesh Atid, the party announced Tuesday.
Cohen was promised a high place on Yesh Atid’s list. She told Blue and White leader Benny Gantz of her decision in advance, but in her press conference, she criticized his decision to enter Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
“I wake up every morning to help people,” she said. “But you can’t really help; you can’t give people a functioning government which will focus on the major challenges before us when you have a prime minister who chooses to drag the country to elections time and again and is driven by personal interests.”
Cohen is another in a long list of ministers and MKs who have left Blue and White.
Out of the party’s top 37 candidates who ran in the last election last March, only eight remain with Blue and White.
But Cohen is the first to go to Yesh Atid. She tried to persuade Gantz to merge with Yesh Atid under Yair Lapid’s leadership, but Gantz burned bridges with Lapid by insulting him on TV last Friday.
Sources in Yesh Atid said they would only take candidates who fit the party’s ideology. Cohen had done good work in the government and was a perfect fit, they said.
Cohen was wooed by multiple parties, including the Israelis Party of Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai.
She will quit the Knesset and the cabinet on Wednesday, and her ministry will be merged with the Labor, Social Affairs and Social Services Ministry led by Itzik Shmuli of Labor. She will be replaced by the next candidate on the Blue and White list, Maariv columnist Ruth Wasserman Lande.

Ruth Wasserman Lande will replace Meirav Cohen on the Blue and White list. (Photo credit: Courtesy Blue and White)Ruth Wasserman Lande will replace Meirav Cohen on the Blue and White list. (Photo credit: Courtesy Blue and White)
Wasserman Lande has served as an adviser to president Shimon Peres, a deputy ambassador at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo and the deputy director-general for international affairs at the Israeli Federation of Local Authorities.
She was born in Israel, lived in Cape Town, South Africa, for nine years as a child and attended the Herzliya High School. She has studied at Oxford University’s St. Anthony’s College and at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government on a Wexner Fellowship.
From left clockwise: Keren Tal, Karine Nahon, Einav Kabla and Adi Tsabari. (Ness Productions)From left clockwise: Keren Tal, Karine Nahon, Einav Kabla and Adi Tsabari. (Ness Productions)
Meanwhile, half of the MKs and ministers in the Israelis Party will be women, Huldai announced Tuesday at a press conference.
The list will include University of Washington Prof. Karine Nahon, former Blue and White MK Einav Kabla, educator Keren Tal and social activist Adi Tsabari.
Nahon, 48, is a scientist married to former Likud minister Michael Eitan. Eitan 76, has been very critical of Netanyahu.
Kabla was raised in a religious home and was the chairwoman of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee.
Tal is a former high school principal who was born in Morocco.
Tsabari has headed Tel Aviv’s departments of informal education and urban renewal.
Huldai also added former deputy chief of staff Dan Harel to run with his Israelis Party. Harel was head of Southern Command during the Gaza Strip withdrawal and later director-general of the Defense Ministry.
On a day when he presented five new candidates, a Channel 12 poll predicted that Huldai’s party would win only six seats.
“Your party leader [Benny Gantz] made a mistake, not you,” Huldai said in a message to Blue and White voters, adding that his party should be their new home.
Blue and White responded that the party’s path “prevented annexation, closing down courts and harming democracy during a health and socioeconomic crisis,” while “the Israelis Party’s path prevents Tel Aviv from having a full-time mayor.”