Feb 21, 2019

Netanyahu's political rivals unite in one party

Photo: Sebastian Scheiner/AFP/Getty Images

Hours before the registration deadline for Israel's elections, the two main political rivals of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday that they will join forces and merge their parties into a single, centrist party that will run in the April 9 contest.

Why it matters: This is the most dramatic development in the Israeli election campaign so far. According to the last few weeks of polling, a joint list led by former Minister of Finance Yair Lapid, the leader of the "Yesh Atid" party, and former IDF chief of staff Benni Gantz, the head of the new "Resilience for Israel" party, would be the biggest party in the Knesset and could possibly beat Netanyahu.

Details: The new centrist list, named "Blue and White" after the colors of the Israeli flag, will include 3 different parties and 5 heavyweight political actors — 3 of them are retired Generals who previously served as the IDF's chief of staff:

  • Gantz's "Resilience for Israel."
  • Lapid's "Yesh Atid."
  • The "Telem" party, led by former minister of Defense and IDF chief of staff Moshe "Bogie" Yaalon, which has right-wing views, especially on the Palestinian issue.
  • Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, who mediated between Gantz and Lapid and remains highly popular in Israel, making his entrance into politics very meaningful.
  • The current head of Histadrut, the workers' union, Avi Nissenkorn, who is expected to bring with him an operational apparatus for election day.

The big picture: According to the deal, there will be a rotation agreement for the title of prime minister. If the new list should win the elections, Gantz will be prime minister for 2.5 years and Lapid for the other 18 months. Lapid will head the foreign ministry and Yaalon will act as minister of defense.

  • Yes, but: The joint list does not have a common political platform — and, on many issues, there are big differences between the factions. However, the main issue they all agree on is the need to replace Netanyahu.

What's next ... The joint list has one big advantage on their side: Next week, Israel's attorney general is expected to announce that he is indicting Netanyahu in 3 different corruption cases.

  • The combined formation of the united party and the indictments could push voters to drop Netanyahu and move their support to Gantz and Lapid. If 2 to 3 seats (or about 70,000 to 100,000 voters) switch sides, Netanyahu will lose the elections.

Go deeper: Netanyahu boosts racist far-right party with pre-election deal

Go deeper

Minneapolis unrest as hundreds protest death of George Floyd

Tear gas is fired as police clash with protesters demonstrating against the death of George Floyd outside the 3rd Precinct Police Precinct in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday. Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Minneapolis police used tear gas during clashes with protesters demanding justice Tuesday night for George Floyd, an African American who died in police custody, according to multiple news reports and images shared to social media.

Driving the news: The FBI is investigating Floyd's death after video emerged of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes, ignoring protests that he couldn't breathe. Hundreds of protesters attended the demonstration at the intersection where Floyd died, per the Guardian.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 350,000 globally on Wednesday morning, per Johns Hopkins data.

By the numbers: More than 5.9 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 and over 2.2 million have recovered from the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 14.9 million tests).

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3:00 a.m. ET: 5,594,175 — Total deaths: 350,531 — Total recoveries — 2,288,579Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3:00 a.m. ET: 1,681,418 — Total deaths: 98,929 — Total recoveries: 384,902 — Total tested: 14,907,041Map.
  3. Federal response: DOJ investigates meatpacking industry over soaring beef pricesMike Pence's press secretary returns to work.
  4. Congress: House Republicans to sue Nancy Pelosi in effort to block proxy voting.
  5. Business: How the new workplace could leave parents behind.
  6. Tech: Twitter fact-checks Trump's tweets about mail-in voting for first timeGoogle to open offices July 6 for 10% of workers.
  7. Public health: Coronavirus antibodies could give "short-term immunity," CDC says, but more data is neededCDC releases guidance on when you can be around others after contracting the virus.
  8. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  9. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy