Histadrut labor federation leader Avi Nissenkorn is close to reaching a deal with Benny Gantz that would give him a high position in the retired general’s Israel Resilience Party, Channel 12 news reported Friday.
According to television reports, Nissenkorn is expected to be placed in the top five of Israel Resilience’s Knesset list and to be appointed as a minister if the party is in the new government after elections on April 9.
Apparently hedging his bets, however, Channel 13 said Nissenkorn would only make a final decision after elections on whether to enter the Knesset or remain at the helm of Histadrut.
The network said his expected choice of Israel Resilience had caught the Labor Party and Kulanu off-guard. Nissenkorn is considered to have a good relationship with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads Kulanu, and Histadrut chiefs have traditionally been members of Labor.
Though Nissenkorn would be unlikely to provide Israel Resilience with a bump in the polls, his union ties could give a significant boost to the newly formed party’s ground game.
Gantz, a former military chief, formally entered politics in November and has since emerged as the main challenger to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel Resilience has agreed to run on a joint slate with the Telem Party, which is headed by former Likud defense minister Moshe Ya’alon.
The party revealed seven new names for its Knesset list on Thursday, including Israel’s first openly gay mayor, an IDF disabled veteran and a female ultra-Orthodox social activist.
It said the full slate will be published next week. All parties must declare their election slate by February 21.
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.