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Gantz, Lapid Merge Parties In Significant Challenge to Netanyahu

Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a meeting with the heads of local regional councils, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2009. General elections in Israel are scheduled for Feb. 10 and pre-election polls show Netanyahu with a lead over Foreign Minister and Kadima Party leader Tzipi Livni.(AP …
AP/Ariel Schalit

The Times of Israel reports: After marathon, all-night talks, the leaders of the two top-polling centrist parties, Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid, announced Thursday that they had agreed to merge their party lists to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s frontrunning Likud in the upcoming elections.

The announcement, just after dawn, said that Gantz’s Israel Resilience party and Lapid’s Yesh Atid had agreed that should they win and form a government, Gantz would be prime minister first for a period of two and a half years, and then Lapid would take over. The announcement also said that popular former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi had agreed to join the united list in the fourth slot in the wake of the merger, in a move intended to further add to their broad centrist appeal.

“From a feeling of national responsibility, it was decided by Benny Gantz, Yair Lapid and (Moshe) Ya’alon to create a united list that will become the new governing party of Israel,” Gantz and Lapid said in a joint statement.

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