Ashkenazi quits Blue & White, takes 'break' from politics

FM is latest party member to leave as Blue & White appears to implode ahead of March 2021 elections; Gantz pays tribute to departing ally, says he is 'certain he will continue to make a meaningful contribution to Israeli public life'

Moran Azulay|
The Blue & White party's No. 2, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, announced Wednesday that he will retire from the party and "take a break" from politics.
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  • "I have decided to not continue with Blue & White and to take a break and calculate my future life," the former IDF chief said.
    3 View gallery
    גבי אשכנזי
    גבי אשכנזי
    Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi
    (Photo: AFP)
    "I want to thank Benny [Gantz] for the partnership and wish him the best of luck. I will continue my role [as foreign minister] to the best of my capabilities."
    Ashkenazi is the latest in a line of Blue & White officials to depart ahead of the March 23 elections, including Asaf Zamir, Miki Haimovich and outgoing justice minister Avi Nissenkorn.
    As his party appeared to fall apart around his ears, a defiant Benny Gantz held a press conference Tuesday night to announce that he would remain as the head of Blue & White and would work to oust his current coalition partner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
    On Wednesday, he paid tribute to his departing second in command, who like himself led the Israeli military before entering the political fray.
    3 View gallery
    בני גנץ, גבי אשכנזי ומייק פומפאו
    בני גנץ, גבי אשכנזי ומייק פומפאו
    Gabi Ashkenazi, left, with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Benny Gantz in August
    (Photo: Defense Ministry)
    "I respect my friend Gabi Ashkenazi's decision and share my heartfelt gratitude for these past two years of partnership for the good of our country," Gantz said on Twitter.
    "Gabi and I have known each other for years and I have a great deal of respect for him. Gabi helped the Foreign Ministry recover from years of neglect and reassert itself as the leading and influential ministry it should be, while helping to block annexation and promote regional normalization," Gantz said.
    "I am certain he will continue to make a meaningful contribution to Israeli public life," he said.
    3 View gallery
    מיקי חיימוביץ' אסף זמיר גבי אשכנזי
    מיקי חיימוביץ' אסף זמיר גבי אשכנזי
    L-R: Miki Haimovich, Asaf Zamir and Gabi Ashkenazi
    (Photos: Avi Moalem and Moti Kimchi)
    On Tuesday, Nissenkorn announced he had quit Blue & White and resigned his ministerial post to join Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai's new "The Israelis" party in the upcoming elections.
    Blue & White, which won the most number of seats in March 2020, is projected to win just five in the next elections set to take in March 2021.
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