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February 19, 2019 4:57 pm

Gantz Unveils Party List, Lapid Says Unity Deal Still ‘on the Table’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Benny Gantz, a former Israeli armed forces chief and head of Israel Resilience party, delivers his first political speech at the party campaign launch in Tel Aviv, Israel January 29, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Amir Cohen.

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz unveiled on Tuesday the Knesset candidates list of his new party Israel Resilience for the upcoming elections, while Gantz’s rival and possible ally Yair Lapid stated that a unity deal between his Yesh Atid party and Israel Resilience was still “on the table.”

The Hebrew news site Walla reported that, as expected, the first two spots on Israel Resilience’s list went to Gantz and Moshe Ya’alon, another former IDF chief of staff. The third position was taken by Avi Nissenkorn, chairman of the powerful Histadrut labor union. At number four was journalist Miki Haimovitch, the first woman on the list.

Yaalon’s Telem faction received two other spots in the top ten — Yoaz Hendel at number five and Tzvika Hauser at number eight. Another five were included in the top thirty.

Other notable names on the list were Haredi social worker Amar Yankelevitch, Druze journalist Radir Meriach, Ethiopian activist Gadi Yevrakan and former deputy head of the Shin Bet Itzhak Ilan.

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Talks have been underway for a possible unity deal with Orly Levy-Abekasis and her Gesher party, so far with no results. Walla cited sources as saying that Levy-Abekasis would receive the number three spot on a unified list and another three to four places for her preferred candidates.

Far more significant was the possibility of a unity deal with Lapid, which polls have shown is the only political configuration that could potentially oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party from power.

The Hebrew news outlet Mako reported that, in his latest comments on a possible deal, Lapid said, “The option is on the table. I won’t take it off until the last minute. We will turn over every stone.”

Lapid also said there was no debate between him and Gantz over technical issues such as candidates and placement on a party list.

“That will come at the end of negotiations,” he said. “After we decide on the important things. What is important to us, what is important to me, is that we have obligations to you. I want clear answers on these obligations. At this point, and there isn’t much time left, I haven’t received any.”

A source within Israel Resilience, however, said that Lapid’s issues were “only politics” and “except for insisting on being first or on a rotation, nothing was there” in negotiations with the Yesh Atid leader.

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