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‘Professionals Party’ of technocrats said poised for run in next election

But two of main candidates in yet-to-be formed faction flatly deny unsourced TV report, which claims party would take away seats from Bennett and be willing to sit with Netanyahu

(L-R): Then-Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov during a press conference announcing the new health basket at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on January 3, 2019; former director-general of the Health Ministry Prof. Ronni Gamzu speaks at a Finance Committee meeting on February 11, 2014; outgoing housing minister Yifat Shasha Biton at a ceremony at the Housing Ministry in Jerusalem on May 18 2020. (Noam Revkin/Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
(L-R): Then-Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov during a press conference announcing the new health basket at the Health Ministry in Jerusalem on January 3, 2019; former director-general of the Health Ministry Prof. Ronni Gamzu speaks at a Finance Committee meeting on February 11, 2014; outgoing housing minister Yifat Shasha Biton at a ceremony at the Housing Ministry in Jerusalem on May 18 2020. (Noam Revkin/Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A new party of technocrats is slated to be established in the coming months as the likelihood for a parliamentary election in 2021 continues to rise, Channel 12 reported Friday.

Labeled the “Professionals Party,” the new faction will include senior bureaucrats and lawmakers who have led the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, the report said.

Without citing any sources, Channel 12 claimed the list of candidates will include popular ex-Health Ministry director-general Moshe Bar Siman-Tov and former renegade chair of the Knesset’s Coronavirus Committee Yifat Shasha-Biton. But both Bar Siman-Tov and Shasha-Biton issued statements immediately after the report denying any connection to the formation of a new party.

“People are mixing my name with some sort of political organization. There is a very simple answer to this. I’m not involved. Period,” tweeted Bar Siman-Tov.

Shasha-Biton said the report was just another false rumor regarding her political intentions, which she has yet to decide on. “There is no connection between me and the organization that was presented,” she added.

Shai Babad, director-general of the Finance Minister, attends a press conference at the Finance Ministry in Jerusalem on December 11, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Likud MK made a name for herself earlier this year when her panel refused to accept far-reaching restrictions on the economy that were approved by the cabinet, which she and others argued were over the top and unnecessary.

Other names included as possible candidates in the unsourced report where Ronni Gamzu, the government’s former coronavirus czar, former Finance Ministry director-general Shai Babad, Hadassah Hospital director Ze’ev Rothstein, former Education Ministry director Michal Cohen and former Justice Ministry director Emi Palmor.

The network speculated that the establishment of such a party would mark a major blow to Naftali Bennett, who has skyrocketed in recent polls amid an apparent understanding in the Israeli public that he is well suited to tackle the economic and health crises and would not allow politics to sway his decisions.

A party of professionals with similar reputations would provide more moderate voters uncomfortable with some of the ultra-nationalists in Bennett’s Yamina party with an alternative on election day, and could cut the latter faction’s support in half, Channel 12 said.

The report also claimed that the Professionals Party would agree to join the coalition of whichever party receives the most votes. This would mark a blow to the anti-Netanyahu camp, which according to recent polls does not have enough seats to form a coalition on its own.

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