United Right leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz announced on Sunday evening that New Right leader Ayelet Shaked will lead a joint electoral slate, bringing to an end weeks of tense negotiations.
“We are happy to announce that I spoke with Ayelet Shaked a few minutes ago, and we agreed that out of national responsibility and concern for the right-wing government and religious Zionism, she will head the Union of the Right-Wing Parties,” he said.
Earlier in the day, the New Right’s No. 2, Naftali Bennett, briefed reporters on Sunday ahead of the planned next meeting with the United Right, defining the proposed alliance as a “technical bloc” to maximize votes in the September election, not a merging of the parties.
Leaders of both parties had expressed hopes of wrapping up the negotiations on Thursday night, but leadership issues were not so easily disposed of, and talks resume on Sunday evening.
Bennett blamed the failure to reach agreement to “delays on their side,” reportedly over reluctance to cede the No. 1 spot on the joint slate to New Right leader Ayelet Shaked.
Three polls published on Thursday evening gave New Right nine to 11 Knesset seats, compared with just four for United Right.
There was no immediately available explanation for the party’s strong showing, considering that it failed to make the electoral threshold in the April elections.
The technical bloc he has in mind would also include Moshe Feiglin’s quasi-libertarian Zehut party and the extremist Otzma Yehudit. “We decided to unite everyone, all the parties on the right, including Feiglin, to bring them under one umbrella,” Bennett said.
Meanwhile, Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is doing everything he can persuade the other parties to run with it, despite strong ideological differences.
Ben Gvir pointed the finger at Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, accusing him of trying to block Otzma Yehdit from joining the alliance.
“Bezalel’s plan was to keep us small and then in the end come and tell me to take another unrealistic spot [on the electoral slate], like they did the previous time,” he told Ynet.
“The prime minister is doing everything in his powers to create tie-ups. He is the responsible grownup on the ground, Smotrich a little less,” Ben Gvir added.