Representatives of Israel's political parties were to begin arriving at the Knesset in Jerusalem from noon Tuesday to submit their lists of candidates for the March 2 elections.
The parties have until 10pm Wednesday to submit their final lists for what will be Israel's third round of elections in a 12-month period after two previous vote failed to propel a party in the Prime Minister's Office with sufficient support to form a government.
Parties to the left of Blue & White have united into one bloc under Labor leader Amir Peretz, while there was little expectation that the parties to the right of Likud would find enough common ground to do so too.
The left-wing parties – Labor-Gesher and Meretz - will run as one list, with Peretz claiming the top spot, Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abekasis in second place and Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz as No. 3.
The union was to be approved Tuesday at Meretz's conference in Tel Aviv at 5pm and a Labor meeting in the city an hour later.
Meretz also needs to approve an agreement with Yair Golan's Israel Democratic Party, that would see the former IDF deputy chief of staff run in the seventh spot on the new joint list.
The agreement is also likely to be ratified despite strong opposition within Meretz, primarily because the party's only senior Arab MK, Issawi Freij, will be pushed down to 11th place on the new list.
On the right, however, National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich said Tuesday morning he was "recalculating" any agreement with other factions, accusing the Jewish Home party of withdrawing from a deal after understandings were reached.
Nonetheless, contacts between National Union and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett's New Right soon resumed and ended successfully, with the two announcing that they will run together in March. Bennett will take the top spot on the list, with Smotrich at No. 2 and New Right fellow founder Ayelet Shaked in third place.
The two biggest parties have seen little maneuvering, however. As in the Sept. 2019 elections, Blue & White is not expected to change its list of candidates.
Likud has just one significant change: Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has announced his imminent retirement from politics, leaving the party's fifth spot vacant.
Even so, such a coveted spot that guarantees a Knesset seat will not be handed over to someone in particular for the time being at least.
The process of submitting the lists is overseen by the new chairman of the Central Elections Commitee, Supreme Court Justice Neal Hendel, who replaced the Deputy Supreme Court Chief Justice Hanan Meltzer.
First published: 12:45 , 01.14.20