Blue & White Reportedly Moving Rightward Ahead of Next Election

The Blue & White party’s leadership has decided to move the party rightward in a bid to attract right-wing voters in the upcoming third round of national elections to be held on March 2, according to a report broadcast by Channel 13 on Monday, January 6.

After the September elections, the Joint List, for the first time in more than two decades, said it would support a Zionist party in forming a government. Blue & White ultimately decided not to form a minority government based on support from the Joint List, primarily due to opposition of some right-wing lawmakers within Blue & White.

Blue & White leader MK Benny Gantz, Labor chief MK Amir Peretz and Gesher head MK Orly Levy-Abekasis in a meeting between them held on November 14, 2019

Blue & White leader MK Benny Gantz, Labor chief MK Amir Peretz and Gesher head MK Orly Levy-Abekasis in a meeting between them held on November 14, 2019 (Photo: Labor party)

As part of its move to the right, Blue & White senior party officials told Channel 13 that they had not ruled out Jordan Valley annexation, pending a briefing from senior security personnel. Far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that annexing the Jordan Valley in the occupied Palestinian West Bank will be one of his key goals if he is reelected.

However, two polls released on Thursday, January 2, showed that support for Netanyahu’s Likud party remains steady following the premier’s request for parliamentary immunity from graft charges, despite the bid’s unpopularity with voters. The polls published Thursday predicted Blue & White would pick up 35-36 seats in the 120-seat Knesset. The Likud, which now has 32 seats, received 33 and 34 seats in the two polls, and the Joint List got 13-14 seats. Both polls had the Labor-Gesher party winning five seats, one fewer than it got in the September elections, while the Meretz-Democratic Camp alliance got four seats in the Channel 13 survey, also a drop of one

Blue & White also hopes to avoid draining votes from Zionist left-wing parties for fear that some of the latter may fail to clear the electoral threshold and enter the Knesset. Party officials are reportedly irked at Labor party chief and former defense minister MK Amir Peretz for his refusal to run together with the left-wing Meretz party. Blue & White reportedly told Peretz that if his party merged with Meretz, he would be its presidential candidate, and Labor would enter coalition negotiations as if it had won six seats, regardless of how many mandates it had actually secured.

Instead, Peretz, on Tuesday, January 7, proposed a tripartite political union between the centrist Blue & White, his own Labor party and Meretz. “We have the opportunity to bring about a revolution in Israel,” Peretz told Channel 12 in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.  Peretz’s proposal may be geared towards saving his party from political oblivion, as recent polls have shown it skirting the 3.25% vote threshold required to enter the Knesset. The union Peretz proposes would mean the de facto dissolution of the Labor and Meretz parties, both of them members of the Socialist International, and their absorption into the neo-liberal and pro-occupation centrist Blue & White.