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Why former defense minister is leaving Israel's ruling party

Senior Likud figures who quit the party are flourishing and occupy important positions in the government, while senior Likud members are afraid to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sits next to Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz during the opening of the winter session at the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on October 31, 2016. / AFP / MENAHEM KAHANA        (Photo credit should read MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images)
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Two polls released March 10 gave a party headed by former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon a disappointing four to six seats. It is hardly the result that Ya'alon was hoping for, but anyone rushing to write him off is doing so prematurely. On March 13, Ya'alon announced that he was finally leaving Likud. Over the next few weeks, he is expected to launch his own right-wing party, along with a list of supporters. The party will advocate respect for the Supreme Court and the Israel Defense Forces' rules of engagement. He will also present a diplomatic, security and civil agenda to serve as an alternative to that of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud. Quite a few people on the right, including in Likud, will follow Ya'alon as soon as the party is established and begins an organized campaign. The consequences of this should be seen in future polls.

Leaving Likud and forming an independent party could turn out to be the best thing to ever happen to Ya'alon. He can now count himself among a respectable and rather large group of ministers who have quit Likud or Netanyahu's office to launch independent political careers. Some of them now hold senior portfolios in the government and positions of power opposite Netanyahu. In fact, almost all the more-important and prestigious portfolios in Netanyahu's government are not in Likud hands.

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