Powerful labor union head officially joins Gantz’s Knesset slate

Avi Nissenkorn’s ties could provide a significant boost to the newly formed Israel Resilience party’s ground game

Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn seen at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on December 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Histadrut chairman Avi Nissenkorn seen at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on December 5, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel Resilience party leader Benny Gantz announced on Saturday that Histadrut labor federation chief Avi Nissenkorn will officially join his party’s slate in the upcoming general elections.

Nissenkorn is expected to be placed in the top five of the party’s Knesset slate, with Gantz reportedly promising him a ministerial position if the party is part of the next government after elections on April 9.

“Avi is a true asset on the way to victory and a change in priorities,” Gantz said in a statement. “His joining is a central element in turning the party into a representative of the middle class, which is coping with a destructive cost of living, huge lines in the healthcare system, and a resounding failure in the ability to obtain housing.”

Nissenkorn is considered to have a good relationship with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, who heads the Kulanu party, and Histadrut chiefs have traditionally been members of Labor.

Though Nissenkorn is unlikely to provide Israel Resilience with a significant bump in the polls, his union ties could give a real boost to the newly formed party’s ground game.

Former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz delivers his first electoral speech in Tel Aviv on January 29, 2019. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

“I will be leaving the Histadrut with a heavy heart, while continuing to maintain the social path that we have placed at the top of our priorities in this important body,” Nissenkorn said in a statement Saturday.

“I will continue to lead a determined social platform headlined by the fight to narrow gaps, just as I have done in Histadrut, and will pursue my life’s goals with renewed vigor from within the government of Israel.”

Responding to the Nissenkorn announcement, Likud and the New Right parties said Gantz was helping bolster labor unions that prevent true competition in the markets, and said Nissenkorn’s policies would only contribute to a rise in the cost of living.

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 election slate 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 ruling 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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