Ashke­nazi in clear to launch Bibi chal­lenge

The Jewish Chronicle - - WORLD NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

THE DE­CI­SION by At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ye­huda We­in­stein last week to close the five-year in­ves­ti­ga­tion into al­leged abuses of power by for­mer IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashke­nazi also launched what is be­gin­ning to look like a new race for the lead­er­ship of Is­rael’s political cen­tre-left.

For­mer lieu­tenant gen­eral Ashke­nazi left mil­i­tary ser­vice five years ago as a widely pop­u­lar com­man­der of Is­rael’s army but also un­der a cloud, ac­cused of hav­ing used his of­fice to plot against his political masters.

The at­tor­ney-gen­eral’s de­ci­sion not to in­dict him or his aides opens the way for Mr Ashke­nazi to join the political arena.

The ex-gen­eral has not given an in­ter­view in 10 years and his political views are un­known.

In pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions, how­ever, he has re­vealed his political am­bi­tions and said that should he join a political party, or found one of his own, his mo­ti­va­tion would be to re­place Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu.

The lead­ers of the two main cen­trist op­po­si­tion par­ties, Zion­ist Union’s Isaac Her­zog and Yesh Atid’s Yair Lapid, have been woo­ing him for months and both con­grat­u­lated him on Twit­ter fol­low­ing the at­tor­ney-gen­eral’s de­ci­sion. Both would love to have Mr Ashke­nazi as their num­ber two, a pop­u­lar gen­eral who can­not be eas­ily por­trayed by the Likud cam­paign ma­chine as a limp-wristed leftie.

How­ever, the new politi­cian is un­likely to be sat­is­fied with the se­cond spot on a party list. He has two al­ter­na­tives. He could link up with other political “stars”, such as for­mer Likud in­te­rior min­is­ter, Gideon Saar, cur­rently es­tranged from Mr Ne­tanyahu. Or he could join the race for the next leader of Labour (the main com­po­nent in the Zion­ist Union), where Mr Her­zog’s po­si­tion is in­creas­ingly em­bat­tled.

Both Her­zog and Lapid would love him as a num­ber two

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