JERUSALEM (VINnews) — Former Israeli chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot on Sunday has finally ended speculation about his political future, declaring that he will run for the Knesset together with the Blue and White and New Hope parties under a unified list.
Yamina MK Matan Kahana, who is deputy religious affairs minister in the outgoing government, will also run on the new slate.
Eisenkot will take the third spot in the so-called “HaMahane HaMamlachti,” or “National Camp,” behind Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar, who respectively head Blue and White and New Hope. Gantz and Sa’ar joined their parties in July and on Sunday rebranded their joint list, which had not seen any significant rise in the polls after they united. The pair will hope that Eizenkot, a widely respected chief of staff, will bolster their party’s fortunes.
Eizenkot had been courted by a number of parties, including Prime Minister Lapid’s Yesh Atid and other left-wing parties. Gantz and Sa’ar’s party is considered to be close to the political center, branded as left-wing by the right-wing parties but including the hawkish Sa’ar, Ze’ev Elkin and new member Matan Kahana, who will receive the ninth place on the new list.
By adding Kahana to their ranks, the new alliance hope to garner votes from former Yamina voters unsatisfied with the choice of Religious Zionism which includes Itamar Ben-Gvir. Kahana’s decision to tie his political future to Gantz and Sa’ar represents a blow to Ayelet Shaked, whose Zionist Spirit is polling beneath the 3.25% threshold for Knesset representation in many surveys.
However the addition of Eizenkot may actually frighten off right-wing voters, as he has expressed in the past dovish political views which do not correspond with the right-wing approach of New Hope and Kahana regarding Judea and Samaria.
In a January interview to Hebrew daily Maariv, Eisenkot said that he thought a one-state, two-nation solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would be “the end of the Zionist vision.”
“I think a bi-national state is the end of the Zionist vision. It doesn’t take a great genius to understand the significance of millions of Palestinians mixed with us, plus the complex situation vis-à-vis Israeli Arabs, who also made very specific decisions over 75 years, which brought the situation to the current problem,” Eisenkot said.