Blue and White targeting right-wing voters ahead of new election

Hoping to defeat Netanyahu, Blue and White launches campaign focusing on former generals, security bona fides to win over right-wing voters.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

MKs Benny Gantz (r), Yoaz Hendel (l)
MKs Benny Gantz (r), Yoaz Hendel (l)
Noam Rivkin Fenton

With Israel headed to repeat elections for the first time in its history, the Blue and White party is eyeing a new strategy in its second bid to unseat Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In the April 9th election, the Blue and White party – an alliance of the center-left Yesh Atid faction of Yair Lapid, former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience faction, and ex-Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon’s Telem – received 1,125,881 votes, or 26.13%.

While the party received the same number of seats as the Likud – 35 – the Blue and White was narrowly edged out in the actual vote count, with the Likud winning 26.46% of the vote, or 1,140,370 ballots.

Though the party campaigned in last month’s election as centrist alternative to both the left and right, Blue and White’s support came primarily at the expense of the left-wing Zionist Union, a joint ticket of the Labor and Hatnuah parties which won 24 seats in 2015.

This time around, however, the party is hoping to draw more right-wing voters.

According to a report by Israel Hayom Monday morning, senior Blue and White officials analyzing the results of the previous election expressed disappointment with the party’s failure to make significant inroads with right-leaning voters.

Ahead of the September 17th election, Blue and White is reportedly planning on shifting its campaign to the right, and emphasizing candidates with security bona fides likely to appeal to center-right voters.

“There’s nothing wrong with being left-wing, but that’s not what our party is,” a party official is quoted as saying. “We have many more centrists and sane right-wingers now than the Likud does.”

“Last time around we were quiet when Netanyahu launched into his campaign claiming that ‘Gantz is a weak leftist’; we thought it wouldn’t help him, that people wouldn’t really believe that we’re leftists. We even joked about it: ‘Who would really believe that people are going to think that Benny Gantz, Boogie [Moshe] Yaalon, Gabi Ashkenazi, Yoaz Hendel, and Zvika Hauser are leftists?’”

Among the candidates the Blue and White party is planning on highlighting in its new campaign is MK Yoaz Hendel, a journalist and security expert who was raised in the settlement of Elkana in Samaria. Hendel once served as a senior aide to Prime Minister Netanyahu, and is a Lieutenant Colonel in the IDF reserves.

Other Blue and White MKs set to be included in the campaign targeting right-wing voters are former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who left the Likud in 2016 after Netanyahu agreed to transfer the Defense Ministry to Yisrael Beytenu chief Avidgor Liberman; and attorney Zvi Hauser, who in the 1990s served as an aide to Netanyahu and advisor to the Likud party.

As part of the new bid to win over right-leaning voters, the three Blue and White MKs will campaign in towns traditionally aligned with the Israeli Right.

Blue and White is also reportedly eyeing a possible alliance with former Yisrael Beytenu MK and Gesher party chairwoman Orly Levy, who failed to win reelection in the April election.