Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Fast Forward

Two Centrist Israeli Parties Merge, Posing Threat To Netanyahu’s Reelection

A merger between two top-polling centrist parties is posing a major challenge to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ten-year hold on the office, the Times of Israel reported.

After talks that lasted through the night, Yair Lapid and Benny Gantz agreed that their two parties — Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience, respectively — would merge for the upcoming election. The deal stipulated that, if elected, Gantz would be Prime Minister first, for two-and-a-half years, and then Lapid would take over.

Gantz is a former IDF Chief of Staff. Lapid, a former journalist, was Israel’s finance minister from 2013 to 2014. The merger agreement also added Gabi Ashkenazi, another former IDF Chief of Staff, to the merged slate.

“For the first time since 2009, we have a competitive race for the premiership and this is the result of the emergence of this new centrist force,” Yohanan Plesner, president of the non-partisan Israel Democracy Institute and a former member of the Knesset, told TOI.

The latest polling average compiled by the Israel Policy Forum predicted that Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid would get a combined 30 seats in the 120-seat parliament — the same amount as Netanyahu’s Likud.

The merger talks, long in the works, had stalled over the issue of who would be prime minister and for how long. Gantz’s Israel Resilience has been polling ahead of Yesh Atid, and Gantz reportedly wanted to secure the Prime Minister position for the duration of the term.

The decision came down to the wire, with 5 p.m. Thursday as the deadline for official entry into the April 9 elections.

Ari Feldman is a staff writer at the Forward. Contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @aefeldman

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.