Joint List Leader: “We Won’t Back Gantz for PM after the Elections”

Joint List leader, MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash) has said that his slate will not recommend MK Benny Gantz to form a government after next week’s election, as it largely did (with the exception of the four MKs from Balad) following last September’s election. Without Joint List support, it will be much more difficult for Gantz, chairman of Blue & White (Kahol-Lavan), to get the nod from President Reuven Rivlin to attempt forming a governing coalition in which he would be prime minister.

MK Ayman Odeh during an election campaign rally held in Tel Aviv

MK Ayman Odeh during an election campaign rally held in Tel Aviv (Photo: Zu Haderech)

Speaking at a campaign event in Haifa on Wednesday, February 26, Odeh said of Gantz, “He is a pale imitation of Netanyahu and people prefer the original.” He said his goal was for the Joint List to obtain 16 seats in the next Knesset and thereby prevent Netanyahu from forming a government.

In Haifa, Odeh was asked about the backing most of his slate gave Gantz in consultations with Rivlin after the September election. “It was very difficult,” he replied. Making an analogy from the Purim story, he quipped: “It wasn’t for the love of Mordechai but hatred of Haman,” meaning not out of enthusiasm for Gantz but out of antipathy for Gantz’s opponent, far-right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Joint List’s recommendation of Gantz, recounted Odeh, had its origins at an opposition demonstration last May. At first, Gantz had asked Odeh to speak at the event, but by the time he accepted, he was told the speakers’ list had was already been finalized. “The pressure on Gantz had begun and the speech was canceled,” Odeh said. “And then, three hours before the event, he told me: ‘If you want, be my guest.’ I spoke with my front and we agreed that it was right to support Gantz in his bid to form a coalition.”

“They got the entire anti-Bibi crowd in the last two rounds in April and September, but it’s not good enough in order to convince people from the right to change sides,’” says Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin, a public opinion expert and an adviser to Joint List campaign. “It’s going to be hard to convince someone who has been voting for Bibi for years with an anti-Bibi message. They need some substance.” According to Dr. Scheindlin, the public opinion expert,  Gantz has missed an opportunity by focusing almost exclusively on “Anyone but Bibi.”