(January 31, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Yesh Atid, which dropped in election polls this week following former Israel Defense Forces’ chief Benny Gantz’s debut campaign speech on Tuesday, is under pressure and trying to let Gantz know that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is the only one who will lead the center-left camp.
Senior officials in Yesh Atid told Israel Hayom on Wednesday that “there are still a few weeks before [party] lists are submitted, and we believe that Gantz will agree to join us. In any case, we have a good few years’ experience in politics that he doesn’t. But if he eventually decides not to join Yesh Atid, Lapid will take care to take him out politically.”
Lapid responded to the Israel Hayom report on Thursday morning, saying, “We don’t deal in political ‘hits.’ ”
“I have never denied an anonymous leak, but the headline in Israel Hayom was incorrect, doesn’t reflect the values of Yesh Atid, and has nothing to do with reality. We don’t deal in political ‘hits.’ Certainly not against good, deserving people like Benny Gantz,” said Lapid.
“Anyone who talks that way has no place in Yesh Atid,” he stressed.
Yesh Atid is eager to join forces with Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party to bolster the center-left bloc and form a credible challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Lapid has already touched on the possibility of a joint run in the April 9 election, but has said that he would not give up the top spot on the list if the parties were to run together.
Meanwhile, Gantz’s campaign staff plan to keep trying to position him as a national leader and an alternative to Netanyahu. The campaign soon plans to respond to the “right vs. left” discussion that Netanyahu is trying to establish. Campaign officials say that Gantz’s response will embarrass the prime minister.
Another campaign tactic is to try and bring other parties onto a joint ticket. On Tuesday, Gantz announced that former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem Party would be running with Israel Resilience. Gantz is also expected to increase attempts to reach an agreement with Orly Levy-Abekasis’ Gesher Party.
Gantz’s campaign is hoping that with the publication of updated polls, Lapid will rethink his strategy and join Gantz, in one of the top spots but not as the leader of a joint party. For now, Israel Resilience is not considering reaching out to either the Labor Party or Hatnua.