One indication that the Zehut party of Moshe Feiglin is having an impact on the election campaign – with polls showing that the party would get at least four seats, and possibly five or six – is the latest round of negative commentary by politicians and the negative campaigns.
This week, the negativity is aimed at Feiglin, with the latest anti-Feiglin commentator National Union head MK Betzalel Smotrich. In an interview with Army Radio Tuesday, Smotrich called Feiglin “an irresponsible maniac,” mostly over his intent to legalize cannabis, if given the opportunity. “It it is up to me, he will not be in the government,” Smotrich said.
While his ideas on decriminalizing cannabis use have garnered the most attention – including, suddenly, from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu himself, who on Monday night said that the next government led by him would “consider” the legalization issue – that position is really just an aspect of the party’s stated position that it wants to reduce the reach of the state significantly, according to the Zehut platform. More of a libertarian than a member of the right or left, Feiglin’s detailed (300+ pages) platform describes in detail the transfer of authority in areas like education and social policy from the state to local governments, and the reduction of state regulation in all areas of life, shifting responsibility to either local communities or the individual.
Also coming out against Feiglin was Hadashot News commentator Gideon Dokov, who called Feiglin “dangerous for the right.” Besides the likelihood that many votes might be wasted on him if the party does not pass the electoral threshold, Dokov said that, due to previous bad blood between them, it was not at all clear that Zehut would join a coalition led by Netanyahu, and if he joined a Gantz-led coalition, “he is likely to be remembered as the right-winger who caused another disengagement.”
According to Dokov, a successful Feiglin campaign could be the impetus that President Reuven Rivlin is looking for in order to give Benny Gantz an opportunity to form a coalition, even if the ostensible right-wing bloc (including Zehut) is bigger.
It should be noted that Feiglin was a leader of the “Zu Artzeinu” movement, which organized mass protests and road-blocking demonstrations before the 2006 disengagement.