Report: Benny Gantz to form independent party

Former Chief of Staff reportedly leaning towards establishing a new party rather than joining an existing one.

Tags: Benny Gantz
Elad Benari ,

Benny Gantz
Benny Gantz
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, who decided to enter politics, is leaning at this stage towards establishing a new party under his leadership rather than joining an existing party, Hadashot TV reported on Wednesday.

It is estimated that Gantz is interested in being appointed to a senior position in the next government. Should he join an existing party, the process will likely end in him assuming the role of a junior minister or a full member of the Knesset without being a member of the Cabinet.

According to the report, Gantz believes that Labor chairman Avi Gabbay and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid will find it difficult to join a government headed by Binyamin Netanyahu. In addition, the establishment of a new party does not preclude the possibility that Gantz will negotiate with other parties in the future.

Zionist Union MK Shelly Yechimovich recently called on Gantz to join the Zionist Union, saying the alliance between Gabbay and Tzipi Livni shows “that we are a big camp and I'm sure Livni will vacate the second spot on the list for him.”

Journalist Ben Caspit reported in June in the Maariv newspaper that Gabbay was pressuring the former Chief of Staff to join the Zionist Union, which is an alliance between the Labor party and Livni’s Hatnua party.

According to the report, the two agreed that Gantz will join the Zionist Union as the party's candidate for Prime Minister, while Gabbay will continue as party chairman and its number one on the Knesset list. The two also reportedly agreed that if the party wins the elections and Gantz forms a government, Gabbay will be the senior minister in that government. If not, Gantz will step down and Gabbay will continue to lead the Labor party until the primaries.

Gabbay later denied the report and said that, while he would welcome Gantz to the Labor party if he chooses to join, he intends to serve as Prime Minister.

Last week, an unnamed senior Likud minister claimed that serious negotiations were under way with Benny Gantz about him joining the Likud. According to that minister, Netanyahu is expected to propose to Gantz that he serve as Foreign Minister in a future government that will be formed after the elections.

The Likud denied the report and said, "This is a false spin that was created for political purposes only. There was no offer to Benny Gantz, whose views are far from the views of the Likud. Besides, Prime Minister Netanyahu is certainly pleased with the Foreign Minister in his government."

Netanyahu holds the role of Foreign Minister in addition to serving as Prime Minister.