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Report: Yair Lapid offered Benny Gantz full merger

Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid is willing to pay a hefty price for a merger with former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz’s Hosen L’Israel (Israel Resilience) Party, according to a report Wednesday night on Channel 12 News.

The report said Lapid would head the list, followed by Gantz, and the two parties would alternate their candidates. Lapid would be the candidate for prime minister and Gantz for defense minister if the party forms the government. But if it joins a government led by another party, Gantz would get the top portfolio.

A Hosen L’Israel spokesman denied the report, saying that “there are no such negotiations and this is a false rumor.”

Yesh Atid did not respond to the report. But Lapid told Channel 12 News morning program on Wednesday that “Yesh Atid will lead a centrist bloc, because it is the only party that can give a fight to the Likud.”

Lapid praised Gantz in the interview, while ruling out running together with MK Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua Party.

“He is a good man,” Lapid said. “I wont join those hitting him on the head. We are friends. We talk. But I don’t think anything will happen until February. We need to give it time.”

The Likud responded to the interview by saying that “a merger on the Left, between Lapid and Gantz, is only a matter of time. The Likud warned that if it is not the largest party, there would not be a right-wing government and Gantz and Lapid would form a coalition.

Gantz has reportedly offered former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi the second slot on Hosen L’Israel’s list. Other candidates who reportedly will be on the list include social activist Chili Tropper, former Yeruham mayor Michael Biton, former Sha’ar Hanegev mayor Alon Shuster, former broadcaster Miki Haimovich and former Tel Aviv mayoral candidate Asaf Zamir.

Oppostion leader Shelly Yacimovich lamented that Gantz had rejected a bond with her Labor Party. She recommended that if a bloc is not formed, every party in the Center, Center-Left and Left commit to recommending to the president that the leader of the largest party among them form the government.

A TNS poll of 527 respondents representing a statistical sample of the Israeli population broadcast Wednesday night on Kann revealed that the Likud’s campaign to paint Gantz as left-wing had succeeded.

Asked where they would place Gantz on the political map, 26% said Left, 36% Center and 12% Right. Another 26% said they did not know.

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