After 24 hours of intensive talks, the leaders of Israel's two largest centrist parties, Israel Resilience chairman Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, have agreed to run on a joint list for the Knesset elections on April 9.
A joint statement from the two parties said, "Out of national responsibility, Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and Moshe Yaalon have decided to set up a unified list, which will become Israel's new party of power. The new party of power will present a new security and social leadership that will ensure the security of the State, and that will reconnect the parts of Israel's divided society. Running jointly for prime minister has been agreed in a rotation agreement. Benny Gantz will be first, according to the agreement and after two and a half years he will be replaced by Yair Lapid. In recognition of this pivotal moment and national task at hand, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi has also decided to join the new party. The heads of the party will issue a special announcement later today."
Until yesterday, Benny Gantz had not agreed to Yair Lapid's demand for rotation, though he has now agreed to an unequal rotation, with Gantz potentially serving as prime minister for the first two thirds of the Knesset term and Lapid for the final third. For the first two thirds of the term Lapid would be foreign minister with defense minister reserved for Moshe Yaalon.
Polls suggest that the new unified centrist party could win around 30 seats in the new Knesset and perhaps even more mandates than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. But if chosen by President Reuven Rivlin to form the next government, the presence of Lapid in Gantz's party will make it difficult to forge a coalition with the Haredi parties.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on February 21, 2019
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