A report on Kan News Wednesday said that the merger of the New Right and Zehut parties was imminent. Naftali Bennett, head of the former, and Moshe Feiglin, who leads the latter, both missed the electoral threshold in the April elections – but are in advanced talks to run together in the September elections.
The report said that Feiglin had agreed to let Bennett take the first slot on the list. In addition, Feiglin has also agreed to allow Bennett to receive the first ministry position, if any are offered to the party. In return, Feiglin wants the second and third slots on the list. Bennett has not yet responded to the offer, the report said.
The deal as presented entails several complications, such as the role of Ayelet Shaked in the party. In the April election, she ran as Bennett’s number two, and was widely expected to retain her job as justice minister if New Right had gotten into the Knesset. Under the deal with Feiglin, Shaked would fall to the fourth position – which would guarantee her a Knesset seat if the party passes the electoral threshold, but not necessarily a ministry position.
Reports Tuesday said that 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. One of the main problems is the opposition of many in the United Right List to cooperate 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.
On Tuesday, the Jewish Home and National Union parties signed a deal that would have them run again as a single party. Under the deal, Jewish Home leader and interim Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz will be given the first place on the joint list while National Union leader and interim Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich will be given first choice on ministerial posts. The two called on Oztma Yehudit head Itamar Ben-Gvir to join as well.