Jewish Home drops extremist faction to join right-wing bloc in 11th-hour move

Having run in separate lists in the two previous elections this year, Likud estimated the lost votes of the religious right foiled Netanyahu's efforts to form a coalition

Ynet, i24NEWS|
In an 11th-hour decision, the Jewish Home party joined forces with Israel's more mainstream right-wing parties under the leadership of Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, after Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz was forced to renege on a previous agreement with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party.
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  • Otzma Yehudit is led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, a follower of the racist Kach movement, which advocates, among other things, for the forced removal of "disloyal" Arabs from Israel.
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    רפי פרץ עם איתמר בן גביר
    רפי פרץ עם איתמר בן גביר
    Jewish home leader Rafi Peretz and Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir announce union last month
    (Photo: PR)
    The deadline for political parties running in the March 2 elections to submit their candidate lists to the Knesset Election Committee, had expired late Wednesday.
    Earlier in the evening, Leaders of the right-wing parties were summoned to the prime minister's office for lengthy discussions on the risks of running separately.
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    בנימין נתניהו
    בנימין נתניהו
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: AFP)
    Netanyahu and the ruling Likud party were eyeing the potential loss of right-wing votes if the religious right parties would have decided to run separately, as they had done in previous election cycles already held this year, which resulted in the prime minister failing to form a coalition.
    Bennett had refused the controversial Ben-Gvir a position on the joint list.
    Peretz said the decision to back out of his agreement with Ben-Gvir was the hardest decision he's had to make in his political career, but the former IDF chief rabbi said that the choice was necessary in order to avoid political oblivion and instead have an impact on the right-wing bloc's legislative priorities.
    3 View gallery
    רפי פרץ לקראת הפגישה עם בנימין נתניהו
    רפי פרץ לקראת הפגישה עם בנימין נתניהו
    Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz arrives at the prime minister's office
    (Photo: Alex Kolomoisky)
    “True, this is how politics is played, but I need to be true, first and foremost, to myself and request the forgiveness of my friend Itamar Ben-Gvir, as I was forced with a heavy heart to cancel my pact with him,” Peretz said overnight Thursday.
    Polling surveys showed that Jewish Home was in danger of failing to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold if it stuck to its alliance with Ben-Gvir's party.
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