With less than three days left to register candidates and party lists for this year’s legislative election, former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party is on reportedly close to forming an alliance with yet another small, newly formed faction.
The Gesher party, formed by ex-Yisrael Beytenu MK Orly Levy, has reportedly reached an agreement with the Israel Resilience Party on the basic outline for a joint run. Neither Gesher nor Israel Resilience have confirmed the reports, and no final agreement has been signed by the two parties.
If Gesher is brought on board, however, it would be the second alliance formed by Israel Resilience since its formation late last year.
Earlier this year, Israel Resilience united with the smaller Telem faction, established by former Defense Minister and ex-Likud MK Moshe Yaalon.
Gesher, which had been polling consistently at around four to six seats a few months ago, has been struggling in recent surveys to pass the electoral threshold of 3.25%. Failure to clear the threshold would result in the party being left out of the 21st Knesset.
Israel Resilience has been polling in the high teens to low 20s over the past two weeks, roughly 10 seats below the frontrunner Likud party. The addition of Gesher to Gantz’s party could bring the Israel Resilience into near parity with the Likud – if Orly Levy’s voters remain loyal.
A Maagar Mohot survey conducted last week shows Gesher’s support coming primarily from voters who backed right-wing, religious, and center-right parties in 2015.
According to the poll, Gesher would receive some 7,000 votes from former Jewish Home voters, 18,000 from Shas backers, 26,000 from former supporters of Kulanu, and roughly 52,000 from the Likud – totaling some 2.4 seats-worth of votes from the right-religious bloc. The remaining 61,000 votes, or 1.4 seats-worth of votes, would come from the left, primarily former Zionist Union and Yesh Atid voters.
MK Orly Levy, who was elected in 2015 on the Yisrael Beytenu ticket, bolted from the party in 2016 when it joined the Likud-led coalition.
While the Knesset okayed her split from Yisrael Beytenu, it barred her from running for reelection with another party currently in the Knesset, effectively obliging her to form a new faction.
Levy later established the Gesher party, named after a faction of the same name which her father, a former Likud leader, established after he lost a leadership battle with Binyamin Netanyahu.