Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked may have split from their Jewish Home party to form the New Right, but are expected to return to the fold once the elections are over, Israeli media reported Sunday, citing senior officials from both parties.
In fact, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation said, the entire endeavor is a way of garnering more votes for the right-wing camp.
Shaked and Bennett are justice and education ministers in the outgoing coalition, respectively.
Jewish Home and New Right intend to form a joint bloc during coalition negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, should he be tasked with forming the new government, as polls suggest.
The New Right intends to draw votes from the secular right-wing, currently the domain of Netanyahu's Liukud Party. Meanwhile, Jewish Home will focus on gathering voters from the religious-Zionism population. Once the elections end, and each party has secured the maximum votes possible, the two will reportedly form a joint faction on the assumption that this plan will exceed the Knesset seats currently held by Jewish Home undcer Bennett's leadership.
Bennett and Shaked announced on Saturday night that they were splitting from the Jewish Home.
“In the past, we were able to prevent things like releasing terrorists or the establishment of a Palestinian state, but we’ve lost our ability to influence (the government)," Bennett said. "The prime minister understands that he has the religious Zionists in his pocket and that they’ll go with him wherever he leads. We offer a true partnership.. My wife Gilat’s family is secular, but we’re one family. The new party is rightist, no ifs and buts. If we'd existed 13 years ago, the disengagement from Gaza wouldn’t have happened."
Jewish Home issued a statement supporting Bennett and Shaked.
"The Jewish Home party thanks Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked for five years of great work for the State of Israel. We believe they have a lot more to do as they lead the Right," said the party's director-general, Nir Orbach.
Meanwhile, Likud minister Ze’ev Elkin on Sunday slammed Bennett and Shaked for their decision to split, saying that it would weaken the right-wing camp.
"This moves jeopardize the right-wing bloc and an electoral win," Elkin told Ynet. "This reminds me of what happened in 1992. Many heads of parties popped up, the right gained a lot of voices, but lost in the general elections."
Elkin also rejected the claim by Bennett and Shaked that Netanyahu only appealed to the religious-Zionist bloc.
"How is this new party different from Jewish Home? They just took an eight-seat party and divided it in half," Elkin said. "One of the parties might not pass the the electoral threshold (of four seats) and squander the right-wing bloc's seats."
He added: "This is a dangerous move. Those who want a niche party, should vote for the old Jewish Home. Those who seek a party for both religious and secular rightists should vote for the Likud," he said.
Moran Azulay, Attila Somfalvi, and Alexandra Lukash contributed to this report.