The Labor Party on Friday denied reports that leader Avi Gabbay agreed to have former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz become the party’s candidate for prime minister.

According to a report in Maariv, the duo have been negotiating in recent months and came to an agreement by which Gantz would be the candidate for prime minister for the Zionist Union – a bloc made up of Labor and the Tzipi Livni Party – and Gabbay would remain chairman of Labor and first on its list for the Knesset.

Labor responded that the report was “incorrect.”

“Labor is a democratic party whose candidate for prime minister is chosen in primaries and not through deals,” the party’s spokeswoman said. “We have great appreciation for Benny Gantz and his ability to continue to contribute to Israeli public life.

“We believe that the Labor Party is suitable for him and he is suitable for it, and if he wants, he will be accepted with open arms,” the spokeswoman added.

Gantz’s post-military cooling- off period, before he can legally enter politics, ends in February, and a number of parties are thought to be courting him.

Last month, Gantz said he would not rule out running with any party, including the Likud. Many in the political sphere have assumed that his positions would be to the Left of the Likud, although he has not made any clear public statements of political opinion.

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