The New Hope party of Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar and the Blue and White party of Defense Minister Benny Gantz have come to an agreement. They are going to participate in the upcoming elections in Israel as a joint slate. The elections are scheduled to take place on November 1st.
Gantz said at a press briefing that the aim of the two parties was to set up a realistic, liberal, secure and responsible government. He said that they would not allow any extremism, racism and would be focused on uniting all parts of the country and all citizens. He said that this would include Orthodox, ultra-Orthodox, secular, Druse, Christians, Jews and Muslims.
Addressing the voters, the Defense Minister said that the country deserves better and should not have to choose an option from the extremes. He asserted that Israel deserves a central and sane option. This was probably a reference to parties like the Arab Joint List, or Bezalel Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party. It also includes Itamar Ben Gvir, who is the leader of the far-right Otzma Yehudit faction.
In order to get votes from the right-wing elements, the former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had brokered a deal between the Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit parties, allowing Ben Gvir to become part of the Knesset in the elections held last year.
Gantz criticizes Netanyahu
The Defense Minister said that Netanyahu had been dragging the Likud party in a manner that undermines the democratic principles and national unity of Israel. He asserted that they were laying down the foundations for the next government.
He also urged other groups to join their union if they share the same values. He said that their goal was to unite everyone who wants to see a democratic, Jewish and safe Israel. According to Gantz, their joint union could be the political home for many right-wing parties.
Gantz referred to the ongoing political deadlock in Israel as an unprecedented and illogical one and said that it was also the country’s biggest democratic crisis.
Elections in Israel
The elections scheduled for November 1st in Israel will be the fifth to be conducted in the country since 2019. According to a report on Sunday, Sa’ar and Gantz had both decided that they would not sit with Netanyahu in a government. However, it should be noted that both of them did not rule Netanyahu out as a political partner.
During his speech on Sunday, Gantz was also full of praises for the multi-party coalition that had made up the government and was led by Naftali Bennett until last month. But, he said that some of its members had dragged it off the road. The alliance comprised of left, center, right and Islamist parties and was able to last for a year before it fell apart because of the differences of the various parties. In fact, lawmakers from Bennett’s own Yamina party had quit the coalition and it eventually led him to take the decision of dissolving the government.