Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz and his political partner, Telem party chairman Moshe Ya’alon, on Thursday announced seven new candidates who will be placed in prominent spots on their joint slate in the upcoming April elections.
“[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s ten-year reign will end when met with the best team in Israel,” according to a party statement announcing the fresh recruits.
It was the first time Gantz officially announced who would be running in his party, apart from his partnership with Ya’alon.
The list of new potential lawmakers includes Netanyahu’s former cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser and former news anchor and environmental activist Miki Haimovich.
Also joining the party are Yoaz Hendel, a newspaper columnist and head of the Institute for Zionist Strategies think tank who previously served as a senior aide to Netanyahu; Hili Tropper, a high-school principal and former adviser to the education minister; Meirav Cohen, a well-known elderly-rights activist and former Jerusalem city council member; Michael Biton, a former mayor of the southern town of Yeruham; and Orit Farkash-Hacohen, a former chair of the Israel Electric Corporation and a prominent business attorney.
Israel Resilience is regarded as the biggest challenger to Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Following Gantz’s keynote speech at the party’s inaugural rally last week, opinion polls have since consistently put his party firmly in second place behind Likud, with 19 to 24 seats in the 120-member Knesset.
Talks have recently intensified between Israel Resilience and fellow centrist party Yesh Atid ahead of a February 21 deadline to file their list of candidates with the Central Elections Committee, after which parties cannot merge or change the order of candidates.
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi is pushing for such a merger, and has reportedly promised to join such an alliance. A poll published Wednesday predicted that if he does so, the joint party would get 35 seats, as would Likud, but Netanyahu would still likely end up being prime minister. If Ashkenazi joins Israel Resilience without a merger, the survey showed, he could boost it by 6 seats.