Gantz form­ing party but leav­ing op­tions open

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By GIL HOFF­MAN

For­mer IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz has se­cretly drafted the 130 sig­na­tures of found­ing mem­bers nec­es­sary to form a new po­lit­i­cal party that will run in the 2019 elec­tion, a source close to Gantz said on Thurs­day, con­firm­ing a re­port on Channel 2.

But the source de­nied that the prepa­ra­tion for form­ing the party was a sign that he had made a fi­nal de­ci­sion to ei­ther run in­de­pen­dently with the new party or use it to ne­go­ti­ate with other par­ties that would run to­gether.

“We are get­ting ready for any op­tion, in­clud­ing run­ning with a new party, join­ing an ex­ist­ing party [or] not run­ning at all and not sub­mit­ting the sig­na­tures to run,” the source said. “There will be no de­ci­sion or dec­la­ra­tion un­til we know when the elec­tion will be.”

The re­port said the sig­na­tures were be­ing kept in a Tel Aviv law firm but were ready to be sub­mit­ted to the party regis­trar.

One pos­si­ble op­tion re­mains run­ning to­gether with the new Achi Is­raeli Party be­ing formed by for­mer Yero­ham mayor Michael Bi­ton and Haredi Women’s Col­lege founder Ad­ina Bar-Shalom. The Zion­ist Union, Yesh Atid and Ku­lanu par­ties are also try­ing to draft Gantz, who polls show would be the top com­pe­ti­tion to Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu in the next elec­tion.

Channel 10 re­cently re­ported that Gantz has started rais­ing money in the US for the new party. A source close to him con­firmed that he did travel re­cently to New York but de­nied the re­port, say­ing that it would be il­le­gal for him to raise money for a new party abroad.

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