Feb 21, 2019

the Lapid-Gantz deal and its affect on Eli Yishai and Aryeh Deri

waking up this morning to the news of an agreement between Lapid and Gantz to merge the parties (with a rotation between them in the Prime Minister's seat, should they win, makes the election season much more interesting.

The biggest immediate effect and question raised, in my opinion, is about Eli Yishai.

Netanyahu went out on a limb yesterday and, as part of his continued efforts to avoid right wing parties from missing the minimum threshhold and wasting votes, after pushing Habayit Hayehudi and Otzma lYisrael to form a bloc, pushed Habayit Hayehudi to form a bloc or merge with Eli Yishai's Yachad party. They came to a tentative deal after Netanyahu made a generous offer promising extra ministerial positions, a senior government position for Eli Yishai, and a reserved spot in the Likud list for an additional candidate.

It looked like a tentative agreement was reached after Netanyahu's efforts, but then came the killer. Aryeh Deri responded negatively to the agreement and said that if Eli Yishai is given such a promise and merged with Habayit Hayehudi and offered a spot in the government, Shas will not recommend Netanyahu as PM to the President after the elections. All is good, but not with Eli Yishai in the picture.

Now, Habayit Hayehudi and Netanyahu have a problem. To continue with the deal or not? It won't even help, if Deri is not bluffing.

This morning's news of the Lapid-Gantz merger makes it even more complicated.

Now Deri has nobody else to recommend besides for Netanyahu. Gantz without Lapid was an option, but with Lapid it is not. So, if Habayit Hayehudi pulls in Eli Yishai, against the threats of Aryeh Deri, what does Deri choose - Netanyahu with Eli Yishai or Gantz with Lapid but no Eli Yishai? Can Habayit Hayehudi now clal his bluff and continue with the merger knowing Deri has no other option or do they drop Eli Yishai because Deri continues to veto that possibility?

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