Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Zehut chairman Moshe Feiglin made the deal official on Thursday evening: Feiglin has agreed to withdraw from the election campaign in return for a ministerial portfolio in the next government.
At a joint press conference at the Kfar Maccabiah Hotel in Ramat Gan, Netanyahu said that “for the first time” in 25 years he and former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin found common ground and “really spoke to one another,” citing their shared support of free-market economics.
“We realized something that we knew, but hadn’t fully appreciated – that we are both committed to promoting free-market economics, lowering taxes, encouraging competition. We both support personal liberty and reducing government regulation – you all know how hard I’ve worked in that regard – ending government interference that harms citizens and business owners, especially small-business owners. We both agree on a series of actions to reduce the cost of living.
“I see you as a minister in the government. I view you as a loyal ally in this,” Netanyahu said, addressing Feiglin.
At the press conference, Feiglin lauded the deal they reached, and asked members of his party to approve it in a referendum on Sunday.
For years, Feiglin had been a thorn in the side of Likud, leading an insurgency that was too far to the right and too religious for party regulars. Finally, perceiving that his plan to steer the party in a new direction was not succeeding, he left and eventually started Zehut, which offers a mix of nationalist and libertarian proposals.
As part of the agreement, the Likud undertook to support expanded access to medicinal marijuana, a main point on Zehut’s agenda.
Speaking of their negotiations on Wednesday night, Feiglin said, “At our meeting I explained in depth to the Prime Minister why this was needed, and how sick people were dying because cannabis was unavailable to them. I gave him the example of Sivan Maimoni, a”h,” a young girl who died of cancer this week after treatments with medical cannabis were halted.
Netanyahu, Feiglin wrote, “went into the depths of the issue, and after hours of examining the issue and discussing it with professionals in the medical establishment, developed a plan with me on the matter. Sick people will be able to purchase cannabis by doctor’s prescription. This is truly a life-saving matter.” Along with that, Netanyahu committed to further liberalization of the economy, another important aspect of Zehut’s platform.