In July 2022, the Blue and White Party of Defense Minister Benny Gantz and the New Hope Party of Justice Minister Gideon Sa`ar agreed to merge. As a result, Gantz went from a party polling in the single digits to one that makes him a contender to become prime minister. The new party is HaMahane HaMamlachti (The National Unity Party).
“Today, we are laying the foundation stone of the next government,” Gantz said. “The edges and extremes have set the tone for too long, and the Israeli center remained without a voice.” Gantz planned to establish a “responsible, realistic, secure, and liberal” government. Such a coalition, he added, will “say no to racism, no to extremism, and yes to unity for all parts of the country and all types of citizens… ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, secular; Muslims, Christians, Druze, and Jews.” Gantz added that voters “shouldn’t have to pick from the extremes.”
Sa’ar described the joint venture as the embodiment of the “stately right and security center.”
One reason for the merger was the belief that Benjamin Netanyahu would defeat Yair Lapid. The new party hopes to attract votes from the center-right who would not vote for either man. They also are more open to a coalition with the religious parties who despise Lapid. While Sa’ar and Gantz remain critical of Netanyahu, they did not rule out a partnership with him.
New Hope will reportedly receive about a third of the joint party’s seats versus two-thirds for Blue and White, with Gantz and Sa’ar leading the list.
After weeks of anticipation, former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot joined the party in August and will be third on the list. Along with him came Matan Kahana, who was Religious Affairs Minister in the previous government and defected from the crumbling Yamina Party, as did MK Shirly Pinto, the Knesset’s first deaf member.
Sources: “Blue and White, New Hope announce union, will run as joint slate in November vote,” Times of Israel, (July 10, 2022).
Eliav Breuer and Roman Meitav, “Gantz and Sa’ar sign political merger in bid to take votes from Lapid,” Jerusalem Post, (July 11, 2022).
Ben Caspit, “Israeli premiership with party merger,” Al-Monitor, (July 12, 2022).
Carrie Keller-Lynn, “Ex-IDF chief Eisenkot, former Yamina minister Kahana join Gantz-led ‘National Unity,’” Times of Israel, (August 14, 2022).