Benny Gantz has offered at least 12 individuals positions on his Israel Resilience party’s slate for the upcoming elections, the Haaretz daily reported Tuesday.
The candidate list is notably devoid of serving Knesset members. Ten sitting MKs reportedly sought to run on the party’s platform, but were rejected out of hand after they were told the party is not currently interested in enlisting sitting MKs.
The same strategy of not enlisting current lawmakers was used by Yair Lapid in the 2013 election, when his newly formed Yesh Atid party won 19 seats.
Gantz, of course, tops the party list, with rumors that if Gabi Ashkenazi, who was the IDF’s chief of staff before Gantz, agrees to join the party, he would likely take the number two slot.
Israeli television journalist Miki Haimovich and former Tel Aviv deputy mayor Asaf Zamir would make the party’s top-10 list if they agreed to join, according to Haaretz.
Other names suggested including educator Chili Tropper, former Yeruham mayor Michael Biton, and Alon Shuster, former head of the Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council.
Two leaders of nascent political parties are said to be interested in merging their slates with Gantz’s — Orly Levy-Abekasis, who split from Yisrael Beytenu in 2016 to form her own party, recently named Gesher, and former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who leads the newly formed Telem.
Negotiations between Ya’alon and Gantz have reportedly stalled over the former’s refusal to join a potential Netanyahu government and his demand to serve as defense minister in a Knesset led by Gantz.
Israel Resilience has refused to comment on the reports.
A recent survey on Israelis’ preferred candidate for prime minister gave Netanyahu 41 percent to Gantz’s 38% in a one-on-one scenario, marking the first time in years that any potential rival has come close to Netanyahu’s figures. The same survey gave Netanyahu 45% to Lapid’s 29%.
Gantz has not set out his political platform, but is widely expected to aim for the center ground. In brief remarks on Monday, he promised to “fix” the nation-state law on behalf of the Druze community, who argue that its provisions render them second-class citizens even though they serve in the IDF; leading Likud politicians immediately castigated his stance as proof that he is a left-winger.
Elections for the 21st Knesset will be held on April 9.