Gay former mayor, female ultra-Orthodox activist join Israel Resilience slate

Activist for disabled army veterans, former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv among 7 new candidates added to Gantz’s party; Histadrut chief Avi Nissenkorn said in talks to join

Screen capture from an Israel Resilience party campaign video, published February 14, 2019 and showing Eitan Ginzburg, who became the first openly gay mayor in Israel when he led the Ra'anana city council. (YouTube)
Screen capture from an Israel Resilience party campaign video, published February 14, 2019 and showing Eitan Ginzburg, who became the first openly gay mayor in Israel when he led the Ra'anana city council. (YouTube)

The Israel Resilience party, along with its partner party Telem, revealed Thursday seven new names for their Knesset election slate. Among the new candidates were Israel’s first openly gay mayor, an IDF disabled veteran and a female ultra-Orthodox social activist.

They were added to a slate headed by two former IDF chiefs of staff: Benny Gantz, who leads Israel Resilience, and Moshe Ya’alon, who leads Telem. The two parties announced last month that they will run on a joint slate in the coming April 9 vote.

The new names include Eitan Ginzburg, the former mayor of Ra’anana, who was the first openly gay mayor in Israel; Asaf Zamir, a former deputy mayor of Tel Aviv who challenged but failed to unseat incumbent Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai in municipal elections last November; former director-general of the Culture and Sports Ministry Orly Fruman; former head of the Be’eri military academy Gadi Yevarkan; former head of Sha’ar Hanegev Regional Council Alon Shuster; female ultra-Orthodox social activist Omer Yankovich; and former head of the IDF Disabled Veterans Organization Moshe Matalon, who was also previously an MK for the Yisrael Beytenu party.

The party published a Hebrew-language video in which the newcomers to the slate explained why they wanted to become members of parliament.

The party said the full slate will be published next week. All parties must declare their election slate by a February 21 deadline.

Benny Gantz speaking to Israel Resilience activists on February 13, 2019, in a photo released by the party. (Sariya Diamant)

Also Thursday Channel 12 news reported that Histadrut labor federation chief Avi Nissenkorn has been holding talks with Gantz on possibly joining Israel Resilience. Negotiations have been ongoing in recent days and although there has been progress, no agreement has yet been reached. Nissenkorn, who in keeping with Histadrut tradition, is currently a member of the Labor party, has also reportedly in the past been in contact with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon with a view to possibly joining his Kulanu party, the television station noted.

Histadrut leader Avi Nissenkorn attends a hearing at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on December 5, 2017, (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Gantz is seen as the most credible rival to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud party in the April 9 election. Prediction polls have given Israel Resilience around 22 Knesset seats out of a possible 120. By joining with other centrist parties, Israel Resilience has been predicted to win up to 36 seats, beating Netanyahu’s Likud party, which has polled at up to 32 seats.

However, Israeli Resilience would still struggle to form a coalition with the required minimum of 61 seats, and Netanyahu is still expected to have a better chance of forming the next government.

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