Yair Lapid and Moshe Ya'alon's factions submitted their requests to break away from the Blue and White party Thursday in response to party chairman Benny Gantz's candidacy for the position of Speaker of the Knesset.
Gantz is the only candidate for the post, and is expected to be voted in at the conclusion of a personal discussion later in the day. His candidacy was supported by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The purpose of the move Gantz initiated in coordination with senior Likud officials is to prevent the disintegration of negotiations to form a unity government.
Gantz's candidacy was opposed within his own party. Ya'alon's Telem faction and Lapid's Yesh Atid faction have broken away from Blue and White in protest.
The move appears to signal that Gantz's willingness to join a unity government even if it means breaking up the Blue and White party.
In the emerging unity government, Gantz is expected to receive the Foreign Minister portfolio and Deputy Prime Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to serve as Defense Minister.