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Kahol Lavan / Blue and White

Generals are revered in Israel, though many who cross into political life after their military service discover that their army experience does not always prepare them for the challenges of civilian decision-making. Former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz launched himself into politics in December 2018 with opinion polls suggesting his new party, Israel Resilience, could win a signficant number of seats. Gantz, 59, was military chief of staff from 2011-15, during two wars in the Gaza Strip. According to official party registration documents, Israel Resilience aims at "strengthening the Jewish and democratic character of the state of Israel".

By 2019 Benjamin Netanyahu was more desperate than ever. His opponents in the Center merged their parties in a new list, Kahol Lavan or “Blue and White”, which has the potential to unseat him on April 9. Former Israeli military chief of staff Benny Gantz joined forces with centrist politician Yair Lapid to run against Netanyahu for the prime minister’s seat in the upcoming general election in Israel. As part of the deal, Gantz’s Israel Resilience party and Lapid’s Yesh Atid party will merge to run as one list. Fellow former Israeli military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi also joined the party and will be positioned fourth on its candidate list, after Moshe Ya’alon, another former chief of staff.

Polls published 17 January 2019 by state-owned radio and TV broadcaster Kan and by the private Hadashot news company showed that Israel Resilience could win 13 seats in the 120-member parliament, with Likud scoring 31 or 32 seats. The two polls put Gantz's party in either second or third place behind Likud. The Kan poll said Gantz was favoured as a potential premier by 31 percent of respondents, second to Netanyahu, who scored 42 percent.

Four opinion polls on Israeli TV and news websites on 30 January 2019 showed popularity spike for Gantz's new middle-of-the-road Resilience party at the expense of center-left rivals. But it was still running second to Netanyahu's right-wing Likud. The surveys gave Gantz's party between 19 and 24 seats in the 120-member parliament - up from around 12 to 15 in previous polls - compared with 29 to 31 for Likud, about the same number as in earlier forecasts.

A survey published 21 February 2019 on Israeli news website Walla, gave Israel Resilience 19 seats in the parliament, making it the second largest party after the ruling Likud party that received 31 seats. Yesh Atid came in third with 13 seats. The survey gave a joint Gantz-Lapid party 34 seats, surpassing Netanyahu’s Likud by one seat, but weakening potential collaborators with Gantz and Lapid from the left and center of the political map, making them less likely to be able to form a coalition without Netanyahu.

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Page last modified: 19-09-2019 18:52:41 ZULU