Shaked Seeking to Unify Right Parties

MKs Betzalel Smotrich (R) and Rafi Peretz of the United Right Party. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked is determined to unify the parties to the right of the Likud, and has been conducting intensive meetings with the heads of the United Right List and her former Jewish Home party-mate Naftali Bennett. A report by Walla News said that she has also discussed the idea with Otzma Yehudit heads Itamar Ben-Gvir and Michael Ben-Ari, and they are likely to join the large party, the report said.

One of the main problems in the way of the idea is the opposition of many in the United Right List to cooperation with Bennett, who dumped the Jewish Home party in the last elections to head the New Right list.

Many blame Bennett for splitting the Religious Zionist vote and for wasting many votes, as his list failed to make it into the Knesset. Bennett has said that if a united list is formed, New Right would still retain its own identity, running with the united party as part of a “technical bloc” that would disperse after the election – but many Jewish Home members reject the idea of even a technical bloc with Bennett.

While the Bennett issue needs to be resolved, the United Right List is more than happy to welcome Shaked herself, the report said, and has offered her the second slot on the party’s list. Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich has agreed to move to third place on the list to accommodate Shaked. She would also be given the Justice portfolio, assuming the party would get it in the next government – and she would be given the 7th or 8th slot on the list for a candidate of her choosing, probably Bennett. After the election, she could remain with the List, or break off with Bennett and stay with the New Right.

The possibility of Shaked’s joining the Likud is off the table, MK David Bitan said in an interview Tuesday, saying that while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not necessarily opposed to the idea, other senior Likud members are, and Netanyahu has no interest in getting involved in a feud over Shaked’s entering the party, he said.

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