Says if only Gantz is PM candidate, party will do better

Labor MK urges Gantz, Lapid to nix rotation deal: ‘They’ll win 2-3 more seats’

Shelly Yachimovich says Blue and White will win over moderate-right voters by canceling agreement that would see Lapid become PM after 2.5 years

Blue and White party leaders Benny Gantz, left, and Yair Lapid, right, at the new alliance's unveiling in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Blue and White party leaders Benny Gantz, left, and Yair Lapid, right, at the new alliance's unveiling in Tel Aviv on February 21, 2019. (Jack Guez/AFP)

A leading Labor lawmaker on Saturday urged the Blue and White party to cancel an agreement between its two leaders to rotate the premiership between them, saying Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid could win 2-3 more Knesset seats in elections if they nix the deal and stick solely with Gantz as prime ministerial candidate.

The agreement — which would see Gantz take the post for the first two and a half years if the party forms the next government, and Lapid taking over for the next year and a half — was key to the unity deal between Gantz’s Israel Resilience and Lapid’s Yesh Atid.

Speaking at a cultural event in the city of Ramat Hasharon in central Israel, MK Shelly Yachimovich said: “I believe — and I don’t just believe but know — that the moment they announce they’re canceling the rotation and Gantz is the candidate for prime minister without rotation, they’ll win an additional two-three seats from more moderate right-wing voters.

“So if every seat is so important as they are saying, I think they had better give up on the rotation and take those two-three more seats from the right, instead of from the center-left,” she said. “I think they’ll see an immediate result in the polling. I don’t think, I know.”

Shelly Yachimovich leads a State Control Committee meeting in the Knesset on December 31, 2018. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The rotation agreement was reportedly a demand set by Lapid for the formation of the joint slate. Though Gantz is said to have resisted it at first, he eventually reneged, paving the way for the formation of Blue and White.

However, Gantz, with his security credentials as former chief of staff for the IDF, is seen as more popular with moderate-right voters than Lapid. Some have said the notion of Lapid as prime minister has turned them off voting for the Gantz-led party.

After its formation in February, Blue and White initially polled with a significant 5-6 seat lead over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, but has recently fallen to a 2-3 seat lead, and in some polls the two parties are neck and neck.

Conversely, Netanyahu has consistently been seen as having a better shot at forming a government following the April 9 vote, as the right-wing bloc of parties that support him has an edge over the center-left bloc that could prop up Gantz and Lapid’s party.

If Blue and White is able to glean votes from the moderate right, it could perhaps upset that balance.

Labor, meanwhile has been polling at around 8-10 seats under the leadership of Avi Gabbay, a steep drop from its current 19. The vast majority of those lost votes are believed to have gone to Blue and White, due to its perceived potential to unseat Netanyahu.

While horse-race polls are an almost daily occurrence in Israel in the weeks leading up to elections and are not seen as overly reliable, taken together, the surveys can often serve as a general gauge of the political climate and where the vote may be headed.

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