Skip to main content

Does Israel’s Blue and White party need to change leaders?

Ahead of the new Sept. 17 elections, the Blue and White party must decide which leadership configuration is most likely to bring victory.
Benny Gantz, head of Blue and White party, prepares to huddle with his party candidates Yair Lapid, Moshe Yaalon and Gaby Ashkenazi, following the announcement of exit polls in Israel's parliamentary election at the party headquarters in Tel Aviv, Israel April 10, 2019. REUTERS/Amir Cohen - RC1129C2DDD0
Read in 

On the outside, it’s "business as usual" for the leadership of the Blue and White party. The party announced on June 2 that despite various rumors and statements, the rotation agreement between Benny Gantz and Yair Lapid will be upheld because “agreements must be honored.” According to this agreement, if the party wins the elections, Gantz will serve as prime minister until the beginning of 2022, to be replaced later by Lapid. The party’s announcement did not include statements like “this is the right thing to do,” and none of the party’s top brass really believe that a continuation of the rotation between the two will improve the party’s electoral outcome — except for Lapid, of course. The decision to continue the rotation — which is probably not final — nonetheless illustrates Lapid’s political power. He is the only senior member of the party who is backed up by an experienced political body with logistical systems and an army of devoted volunteers and activists throughout the country.

The question is what will happen on the ups and downs leading to election day on Sept. 17. “We’ve received a second chance,” Lapid said after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to assemble a government and the Knesset dissolved itself on May 30. Lapid was right. The problem is that at this stage the opportunity does not include new instruments or tie-breaking tools that would enable Blue and White to succeed in the very same place it failed last April: to beat Netanyahu. Perhaps even the contrary is true. It is altogether possible that the next Labor party chairman (primaries will be held this July) will be stronger and more effective than Avi Gabbay was and will succeed in returning some of the voters it had lost to Blue and White. And this is even before expressly mentioning the name Ehud Barak, the former Labor chair and former prime minister, who is seriously considering returning to the party and running for chairman. Blue and White would then be operating in a more complicated and dangerous arena than they had faced in April — and without any improvement in the means it has at its disposal. As aforesaid, things might even be worse this time around.

Access the Middle East news and analysis you can trust

Join our community of Middle East readers to experience all of Al-Monitor, including 24/7 news, analyses, memos, reports and newsletters.


Only $100 per year.