The Jewish Chronicle How long can Blue & White hold together?
Only in one of them does the centre-left-Arab bloc have a majority that would block Mr Netanyahu’s path to coalition.
But even that would not be enough to make Mr Gantz prime minister: the Arab parties are not expected to join any coalition and a Gantz government would need the support of at least one of the current coalition’s partners.
There are not many options for him. Two Charedi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, refuse to sit in the same government with Mr Lapid, who they see as “anti-Charedi”.
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“WE NEEDED to achieve three things to make the centrist alliance a reality,” says one of the small circle of men who cobbled together Blue and White, the new party which is leading the polls.“We needed to get the three former chiefs of staff, Benny Gantz, Moshe Yaalon and Gabi Ashkenazi to run together and agree that Gantz, who is now the most popular of them, to lead. That was relatively easy, because they put the nation ahead of their egos.“We needed to keep a fourth former chief of staff, Ehud Barak, out. Barak thinks he’s the only person who can lead. But that was also relatively easy, because noone wants Barak back in politics, besides Barak.“And we needed Yair Lapid to join, which was next to impossible to achieve. He came to his senses at the last moment.” It went down to the wire, with the leaders of the new party meeting to finalise the deal at five in the morning on Thursday, 17 hours before the deadline for handing in the candidates’ lists to the central election commission.Mr Lapid, despite the wide gap in the polls between Mr Gantz’s Israel Resilience Party and his own Yesh Atid, still insisted that he had earned the right to be Israel’s future prime minister. He finally relented when he was promised that should the new party win the election, Mr Gantz would be prime minister for two and a half years, and then be replaced by Mr Lapid.Together with a third of Blue and White’s candidates coming from Yesh Atid, this sealed the deal.The last-minute pact that launched Blue and White is so far proving itself. Nine polls have been released since the LapidGantz announcement and in all of them the new party is leading Likud by a clear margin — anything between three and ten seats.But that will not be enough to deliver victory. In five of the polls, the bloc of right-wing and religious parties that will support Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the election still has a slim majority. In three, Mr Netanyahu’s bloc is level-pegging with centrist, left-wing and Arab parties.One option, mentioned by Mr Lapid in a speech to his followers on Sunday night, would be “Likud after Netanyahu” joining a centre-ground Gantz government, which would also include Labour from the left.But this coalition arithmetic may be a bit premature. As the polls stand, Mr Netanyahu’s chances of forming his fifth government are still better and Blue and White is yet to prove it can even fight an election.Half of the party is a disparate list of public figures from left and right who joined Mr Gantz in recent weeks; the other half is the tight-knit party founded by Mr Lapid seven years ago, described by one of the new party’s leaders dismissively as “Yair’s personal cult”.For now, Blue and White is not a party, but a project or a platform to replace Mr Netanyahu. The question is can it stick together for the next six weeks and win over enough “softright” voters to ensure there is a majority in the next Knesset against Mr Netanyahu.