Last week saw several parties meet to discuss potential mergers and joint lists. The deadline for parties to register their Knesset lists is this coming Wednesday – 15th January.
Benny Gantz met with Amir Peretz as Labor-Gesher was seeking to join Blue and White for the upcoming election, Gantz has ruled out a merger with any party and encouraged Labor-Gesher to run on a joint list with the Meretz and the rest of the parties that make up the Democratic Union.
Meretz and the Democratic Choice Party (originally known as the Israeli Democratic Party when formed by Ehud Barak) have agreed to run together again, no discussions with Stav Shaffir, the leader of the Green Movement will happen until after the Democratic Union has discussed their options with Labor-Gesher.
Benny Gantz has vowed to prevent Prime Minister Netanyahu from gaining immunity. The Knesset’s legal advisor has ruled that a house committee must be formed to deliberate the case but Knesset Speaker – Yuli Edelstein (Likud) has yet to do so.
Gantz together with Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Liberman has threatened to replace Edelstein if the committee is not formed. Liberman has also said that Netanyahu would form a coalition with Hamas if it meant that he could get immunity.
Labor-Gesher released a video focusing on the socio-economic challenges of young families and announced that they will promote free education for children starting from age 0.
Netanyahu’s cabinet reshuffling continued as Netanyahu appointed MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) as Diaspora Minister, Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) as Construction Minister which was held by Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud/Kulanu) who was set to become Welfare Minister. Netanyahu also intended to appoint Likud MK David Bitan as Agriculture Minister even though he is facing his own legal challenges. The High Court indicated that these appointments might be struck down – Bitan has now rejected his portfolio which could pave way for the rest of the appointments to be confirmed.
Arab Joint List leader Ayman Odeh discussed whether he will again recommend Gantz for Prime Minister, while not giving a definitive answer he indicated that he is committed to preventing Netanyahu from forming a government and would like to see the Center-Left + Arab bloc win 61 seats in the upcoming election.
Bayit Yehudi leader Rafi Peretz again came under fire for recent homophobic comments. Peretz has recently been facing opposition from his party as he is seeking to head an alliance of Bayit Yehudi, Tekuma and Otzma Yehudit but the deals have not been finalized by the relevant parties and committees.
Hayamin Hechadash (New Right) leader Naftali Bennet spoke at a conference on the U. S’s settlement policy. Bennet said that Israel is waging a real battle for control of Area C which he said belongs to Israel. Bennet has long been in favor of annexing Area C and will insist on it in any collation negotiations.
At the same conference, Netanyahu promised that no settlements will be uprooted in any peace plan as Israel patiently waits for the United States to present their ‘Deal of the Century’.