Likud Dissatisfied With Right-Wing Merger

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YERUSHALAYIM

United Right party chairman Rafi Peretz (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Whatever jubilation there was on the finalization of a merger of right-wing parties on Sunday, at least some members of the Likud weren’t sharing in it.

Party sources quoted by The Times of Israel said the agreement between the United Right and New Right parties to run a joint slate in the September elections would be a “fake union” if it leaves out the far-right Otzma Yehudit and quasi-libertarian Zehut parties.

“If the process is not continued, while on the other side all the Arab parties have already united, the right-wing bloc is at risk of losing the leadership,” they said.

“Bennett, Shaked, and Smotrich intentionally left out 5-6 Knesset seats on the right — and they are knowingly jeopardizing the continuation of a right-wing government. It’s not too late to fix this dangerous mistake.”

United Right MK Betzalel Smotrich told Army Radio on Sunday that he wants to bring Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party into the joint list, and invited it to enter negotiations.

Meanwhile, the Likud party denied a report that members of Otzma Yehudit party will get reserved spots on Likud’s slate in the upcoming elections.

“Likud has already exhausted its quota of reserved spots with the merger with [Moshe] Kahlon,” Likud said, referring to the leader of the Kulanu party.

“There will be no more reserved spots in Likud.”

Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party at last report was out of the conversation. Feiglin has complained of being slighted by New Right’s Ayelet Shaked. “No negotiations have taken place, despite the fact that they all knew that we were willing. We shall therefore run independently, and we shall get into the Knesset.” Zehut ran independently in April but did not get into the Knesset.

Blue and White MK Yair Lapid called on the joint right-wing list not to collaborate with Otzma Yehudit. “The Kahanists are not legitimate candidates,” he said. “They should not be in Israel’s Knesset. Their positions are not legitimate. They should not be brought in just because Netanyahu is scared of going to jail.” The last was a reference to reports of Prime Minister Netanyahu lobbying for Otzma Yehudit to be included in the alliance, lest the small parties that fail to pass the threshold weaken the right block and the PM’s chances of staying in power.



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