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February 21, 2019 3:54 pm

Former PM Ehud Barak on Gantz-Lapid Merger: ‘This Is a Very Happy and Important Day’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

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Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Ex-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak praised on Thursday Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid for their decision to merge their Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid parties into the new Blue and White list.

Interviewed by Walla News, Barak said it was “a very happy and important day.”

“Lapid and Gantz are showing national responsibility, getting over the obstacles, putting ego aside, and moving toward something that has a real chance to upend” the political system, Barak said.

Barak pointedly employed the Hebrew term mahapach, or “upending,” first used when Menachem Begin’s Likud party swept to power in 1977.

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“The real test of victory in the elections is still in front of them,” Barak added, “but this is a very happy and important day.”

Asked whether it worried him that Gantz, the former IDF chief of staff, had no experience in politics, Barak replied, “Gantz was a very good chief of staff. … In an ideal world, he would need experience, [but] he has people around him with experience.”

Barak noted that Lapid served as finance minister and Moshe Ya’alon — number three on the new list — was defense minister. “And Benny has enormous experience in the security field, which is central to our lives,” he went on to say..

Referring to recent accusations by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Likud party that Gantz was a leftist, Barak said, “You can’t call this group leftist. … You cannot make them out as defeatists.”

“The group around Netanyahu incites in the ugliest terms against anyone who does not nod their heads and say yes,” Barak asserted.

“We have to replace this bad government and lift up the State of Israel along the lines of a strong democracy, confident in itself and understanding what normality is and that the Declaration of Independence is its base,” he continued.

Barak — a former head of the Labor party — has been outspoken in the past regarding the need for a unified opposition to Netanyahu. Asked whether it bothered him that even though this has finally happened, he himself was left in the political wilderness, Barak answered, “When I called for unification, I never spoke about myself, because in my opinion, the goal is more important — and it is unity resulting in a change in leadership. I am invested in this and this only, not in myself.”

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