The leader of the Israel Resilience Party, Benny Gantz, and Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid will meet on Wednesday morning to examine the possible merger between the two parties.
Gantz and Lapid met overnight Tuesday to discuss joining forces in an effort to present an alternative to the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Sources involved in the negotiations said their talk was "good" and that the two intend to make a final effort to work together ahead of the April 9 elections.
After failing to reach an agreement with Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abekasis, the former IDF chief of staff reached out to Lapid on Tuesday evening, after presenting his party's final list of candidates for the Knesset.
"I will offer my friend Yair Lapid to put all other considerations aside and put Israel first," he said, hinting at a possible merger, which is crucial to form a wide central-left bloc.
Lapid responded to Gantz, saying that "We'll do everything that is in our power not to miss the opportunity to change the current leadership."
The question of who will lead the joint bloc appears to be the only obstacle left in the talks between Yesh Atid and Israel Resilience.
"If Lapid forgoes (his demand for) a rotation agreement, he and Gantz will join forces," according to one of Gantz's associates.
A Yesh Atid official, meanwhile, explained that "We have to examine if Gantz's proposal is serious, or if he is only trying to come across as someone working to form a wide center-left bloc."
The Israel Resilience Party's final list of candidates for the 21st Knesset includes Moshe Ya'alon in second place, followed by Avi Nissenkorn, Miki Haimovich, Yoaz Hendel, Michael Biton, Chili Tropper, Zvi Hauser, Orit Farkash-Hacohen, and Merav Cohen.
Speaking before hundreds of volunteers and supporters, Gantz harshly criticized Netanyahu, calling him a "detached ruler."
"When I was lying in the trenches with my soldiers in the blistering cold, you, Bibi, left Israel to polish your English in fancy cocktail parties," Gantz said, using the prime minister's nickname.
"Over the past decade, Israel didn't have a real opposition to counter the (Likud) ruling party. Netanyahu ruled the country through incitement, deception and intimidation. But no more. The sole ruler is nervous, frightened and sweating," Gantz said.
Addressing the prime minister, Gantz said: "I've worked with you shoulder-to shoulder. Alongside Moshe Ya'alon we led Operation Protective Edge in 2014, which brought 3.5 years of quiet to the Gaza border communities."
"Together we led countless of covert operations to ensure Israel's stability and security. I know your abilities and cherish your contribution to the State of Israel. But I also know your weaknesses," Gantz said.
In response, Netanyahu slammed Gantz, saying: "Shame on you. As a soldier and an officer in Sayeret Matkal (an elite commando unit), I risked my life time and again for this country. I was wounded while fighting terrorists. I almost lost my life in the Suez Canal, fighting for Israel's security, which you want to put at risk with talk of unilateral withdrawals and by supporting the Iran nuclear accord."
Ya'alon, the former defense minister and the leader of the Telem Party, which already joined forces with Gantz, also blasted Netanyahu, saying he is destroying the Israeli society.
"Netanyahu is systematically dismantling everything that has been built here by trying to defeat democracy and stateliness, while surrendering to Hamas," Ya'alon said.