Two of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s strongest challengers in April elections have announced a centrist alliance in a bid to defeat him.
Ex-army chief Benny Gantz and centrist politician Yair Lapid agreed to rotate as prime minister if they win. Separately, Netanyahu forged an alliance with several far-right parties to try to shore up votes. His right-wing Likud party leads the polls despite an investigation into corruption allegations against him.
The Israeli attorney general is due to make a decision on whether Mr Netanyahu, who denies the allegations, should be charged in the coming weeks. Gantz, the former head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and TV-journalist-turned politician Yair Lapid announced their intention to run on a joint centrist ticket on Wednesday, before the Thursday deadline to submit candidate lists for the 9 April elections.
They were also joined by former Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon and ex-military chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The centre ground agreement is seen as making the race more competitive and a challenge to Netanyahu’s decade-long premiership, the BBC’s Jerusalem correspondent Tom Bateman says.
Gantz’s Resilience party said in a statement that it had “decided to establish a joint list that will comprise the new Israeli ruling party”, and vowed to reunite Israeli society. If successful at the polls, Gantz agreed to hold office as prime minister for the first two-and-a-half years, before Lapid takes over.