Gantz calls for uniting anti-Netanyahu camp

Huldai blasts Lapid, Sa'ar, and Netanyahu.

Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz speaking ahead of the upcoming March elections, January 11, 2021.  (photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz speaking ahead of the upcoming March elections, January 11, 2021.
(photo credit: ELAD MALKA)
Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz on Monday called on all party leaders who want Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu out of office to start working immediately on uniting the anti-Netanyahu camp to run together in the March 23 election.
Gantz singled out Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, Israelis Party head Ron Huldai, Telem chairman Moshe Ya’alon, Tnufa head Ofer Shelah, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman, Meretz leader Nitzan Horowitz, possible Labor leadership candidate Itzik Shmuli and Economy Party head Yaron Zelekha. He said they should meet to find common ground and the right formula to enable them to run together.
“At a time of emergency, we cannot run with shards of parties,” Gantz said. “Let’s unite for the good of the state without fear and ego.”
Gantz’s office formally began organizing a meeting between the party leaders. A source close to Lapid responded that “serious people know how to manage serious things privately and not through the press.”
Liberman rejected the invitation, saying Gantz missed his chance to oust Netanyahu and “preferred to become a reserve prime minister.” He said the way for Gantz to help prevent Netanyahu’s reelection was to stop his Blue and White Party from running.
For the first time, Gantz said he regretted trusting Netanyahu when he formed a government with him. He said as acting justice minister, he would make sure Netanyahu will soon go to trial.
Shelah reached out to Huldai and Labor at a press conference earlier Monday, urging them to begin negotiations to unite the Left. The views of Huldai’s Israelis Party and Labor were similar to those of his own party, he said. Just ahead of the February 4 deadline for parties to unite was too late, he added.
“We cannot wait until something unexpected,” Shelah said. “We cannot wait for internal party processes because it would be too late.”
Splits among the parties in the Center and Left remained on Monday. Huldai slammed Lapid at an online briefing for political reporters.
Huldai’s press conference began with a Channel 13 poll that found that 37% of Center-Left voters want the leader of the new Israelis Party in the national leadership. Lapid was the choice of 26% of the voters in the camp and Gantz 6%.
Asked if he could be Lapid’s No. 2 in the election, Huldai said he is building a list to be an alternative leader.
“Unfortunately, Lapid has had five chances and didn’t succeed,” he said.
Huldai pointed out that Lapid’s former party members Moshe Ya’alon and Shelah left.
He also blasted New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa’ar, calling him “extreme Right,” even though he said of himself that there is no longer a Right and Left in Israel.
Regarding Netanyahu, Huldai said: “I will present an alternative to the schlemiel leadership of Bibi.”
Meanwhile, the Yamina Party of Naftali Bennett and the Religious Zionist Party of Bezalel Smotrich appeared to cut ties on Monday night after negotiations to unite did not bear fruit.
Smotrich ran as part of Yamina in the last election. “Naftali Bennett and I are splitting, each to his own path,” he told Channel 12 Monday evening.
In response, Yamina said: “Smotrich chose tonight to split the Right.”