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Israel's far-right parties under pressure to drop out

August 27, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Israeli far-right Otzma Yehudit supporters [Twitter]

Three far-right Israeli parties are under pressure from Likud members to drop out of September’s election so as not to risk losing thousands of votes, reported the Jerusalem Post.

Zehut, Otzma Yehudit and Noam are all polling below the electoral threshold, meaning that they will not secure enough votes to enter the Knesset.

From the point of view of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, this constitutes wasted votes for the right-wing bloc, in what will be a tight contest to see who can form a coalition.

According to Israel’s Channel 13 news, Likud member Natan Eshel met with far right Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir yesterday “in an attempt to convince party leaders that Otzma Yehudit should drop out of the election race so as to not waste thousands of right-wing votes”.

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On Sunday Israel’s Supreme Court banned two Otzma Yehudit candidates – Benzi Gopstein and Baruch Marzel – from participating in September’s do-over election on account of their anti-Palestinian rhetoric and incitement to racism. The court did not, however, ban Ben-Gvir or the party as a whole from contesting the election.

Meanwhile, Walla News has reported that talks are advancing between Netanyahu and Zehut Party leader Moshe Feiglin, which may also lead “to an official resignation announcement from Feiglin”.

The report cited sources who claimed Netanyahu has promised Feiglin “a high-ranking position in the Ministry of Finance”, along with “economic proposals” matching Zehut’s “libertarian” agenda.

Netanyahu also “reportedly also offered to take steps to legalize cannabis, a primary issue of the Zehut party’s platform.”

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Feiglin, however, has since claimed in a Facebook post that he will “submit the decision to a referendum for Zehut supporters, and they will decide the fate of the party”.

The far-right Noam party has also declared that they will be assessing the situation in order to decide whether or not to drop out of the election.

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The Jerusalem Post reported that in addition to pressure from Likud politicians, “rabbis in the messianic branch of Chabad [an ultra-Orthodox movement] have signed a declaration urging haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews to not waste their votes on smaller parties that are unlikely to cross the electoral threshold.”

The rabbis also urged voters not to support any party “which negotiates regarding giving away parts of the Holy Land, or which negotiates providing any sort of autonomy to non-Jews.”