Lapid said to meet with Ya’alon amid speculation over unity pact

Lapid said to meet with Ya’alon amid speculation over unity pact

Sources say no progress yet in discussions; former IDF chief Gantz expected to formally launch campaign shortly

Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid speaks to the media in the Knesset, on December 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Yesh Atid leader MK Yair Lapid speaks to the media in the Knesset, on December 24, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Yesh Atid party chairman Yair Lapid and ex-defense minister Moshe Ya’alon reportedly met earlier this week amid growing speculation over the possibility of a political unification move, Channel 10 reported Saturday.

Sources told the news outlet that Ya’alon and Lapid discussed the possibility of a political alliance or party “partnership” at the lengthy Thursday meeting held at the headquarters of Ya’alon’s new Telem party.

The sources said no progress had been made during the meeting regarding a possible alliance in the upcoming April elections.

Both Ya’alon and Lapid’s campaigns declined to comment on the meeting.

“Lapid has meetings all the time with many political elements,” Yesh Atid said in a statement. “We do not comment on specific meetings.”

Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon speaks at an event in Jerusalem on December 27, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Ya’alon’s campaign said the former defense minister was “constantly meeting and talking with people who understand it is time for a different leadership.”

Ya’alon launched his Telem party last week in a bid to challenge Netanyahu in the upcoming the elections, promising “a political force that will put the country back on the right track.”

Ya’alon, a hawkish former Likud member, has been vowing to challenge Netanyahu since he was ousted from the Defense Ministry in 2016 by the prime minister, to be replaced by Avigdor Liberman. He quit the ruling Likud party and the Knesset shortly thereafter, and has since frequently criticized Netanyahu and indicated he would return to politics to run against him.

Ya’alon has in the past cited Israel’s economic and social woes, including racism and sexism, as issues he would seek to address in a leadership position.

Recent polls have indicated Ya’alon would fail to clear the minimum vote threshold needed to enter the Knesset. Reports have said he is also in talks with former chief of staff Benny Gantz to form an electoral alliance, with the latter doing well in the polls.

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz speaks to reporters outside the Peres Center for Peace in Jaffa on September 28, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Gantz, who commanded the military when Ya’alon was defense minister, formally entered politics last week with the registration of his new party, Israel Resilience. He has been largely mum on his political views and has not commented on whether he would join a Netanyahu-led government.

Surveys have said Gantz’s party would finish second to Likud in elections, though well behind it. They have also indicated he could pose a more potent challenge to Netanyahu’s ruling party if he were to team up with another centrist party.

According to Channel 10, Gantz is preparing to formally launch his election campaign shortly. Other reports have said Gantz will set out his positions at a speech in Jerusalem this coming Thursday.

The report on Saturday said Gantz and his team are drafting a speech he will deliver at his campaign launch that will focus on the need for moderation in public discourse and to eliminate incitement.

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