נפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהו
Benjamin Netanyahu and Naftali Bennett
Photo: GPO
Defense Minister Naftali Bennet and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

PM pushing far-right parties to unite for next election

As deadline looms for submission of candidates lists for March vote, PM warns his defense minister Naftali Bennett that his position is 'at risk' if his party does not finalize agreement with Jewish Home

Moran Azulay |
Published: 01.15.20 , 13:26
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday put pressure on the religious-Zionist parties to the right of his Likud party to unite ahead of the March 2 elections.
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  • In a meeting Wednesday, Netanyahu warned Naftali Bennett, who heads the New Right party, to form a union with Jewish Home or face losing his position as defense minister.
    נפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהונפתלי בנט ובנימין נתניהו
    Defense Minister Naftali Bennet and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: GPO)
    Parties have until 10pm Wednesday to submit their final list of candidates for the elections and Jewish Home and New Right are still at an impasse over an agreement for a shared run.
    Likud officials have also called on Bennett to "lose the ego" and take the responsibility for uniting the two parties into one list.
    Netanyahu is pushing for a union between the two parties primarily so that they will not "waste" votes in the upcoming elections should the two parties run independently and fail to pass the vote threshold of 3.25%.
    Such a scenario would shrink Netanyahu's efforts right-wing bloc, and hamper his potential efforts to form a government after the election, thereby risking approval for his request for parliamentary immunity in his indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
    רפי פרץ נפגש עם איתמר בן גביררפי פרץ נפגש עם איתמר בן גביר
    Extreme-rightist Itamar Ben-Gvir and Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz
    (Photo: Courtesy)
    On Monday, Jewish Home activists voted to join forces with Itamar Ben-Gvir and his extreme-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party.
    New Right officials said on Tuesday that the role of uniting the two parties was under the jurisdiction of the prime minister.
    "He should invite Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz and convince him to join us without Itamar Ben-Gvir," said one of the officials.
    "Peretz is a man who when called upon by the prime minister can be persuaded to rise to the task," he said.
    נפתלי בנט איילת שקד מסיבת עיתונאים עם חברי מפגת זהות לשעברנפתלי בנט איילת שקד מסיבת עיתונאים עם חברי מפגת זהות לשעבר
    Ayelet Shaked and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, the heads of the New Right party
    (Photo: Tal Shachar)
    Both Likud and New Right claimed that Netanyahu's comment to Bennett was not an ultimatum, but rather clarification ahead of the upcoming elections, when their respective campaigning could create a dynamic of rivalry between the two, thereby making it harder to Bennett to continue in his ministerial role.
    בצלאל סומטריץ' באולפן ynetבצלאל סומטריץ' באולפן ynet
    Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich
    (Photo: Avi Moalem )
    On Tuesday, Transportation Minister and National Union faction leader Bezalel Smotrich announced his party was joining with New Right for the March election.
    Both Peretz and Ben-Gvir vehemently attacked Smotrich for the decision, calling it a "decimation of the right and the religious-Zionist movement."
    Elisha Ben Kimon and Amichai Atali contributed to this report
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