After Deal on Left, Pressure on Right to Unify

Amir Peretz (L.) meets with Nitzan Horowitz, in Peretz’s house in Sderot, Monday.

With the agreement between Labor and Democratic Camp to run on a joint list, the pressure is on rightwing parties to do the same. Sources in the Likud said that party officials from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and down were embarking on a last-minute campaign to pressure the New Right, Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit to run on a single list, in order to ensure that no votes are lost for the national camp.

Yisrael Hayom reported Monday that despite the Likud’s best efforts, it appeared that the gaps between the parties were too great to close by Wednesday, the deadline for parties to present their lists to the Central Elections Committee. The main issue is the desire of New Right’s Naftali Bennett to run on an independent list, claiming that he will bring in more votes for the right than if he joins with the other two parties. Otzma Yehudit and Jewish Home are already running together.

On the left, Labor and Democratic Camp announced Monday that they would run together on a single list. Labor head Amir Peretz will lead the list, with Gesher’s Orly Levy-Abukasis second. Meretz head Nitzan Horowitz will be third. Commentators stressed that the united run was a “marriage of convenience,” with the union likely to break up immediately after the election. Officials said that the joint run was necessary, as polls showed that both Democratic Camp and Labor were dangerously close to the electoral threshold, and that there was a good chance that one or both might not pass it.

Polls released over the weekend showed that unification on the right or left would have little impact on the division of seats between right and left. A poll published in Yisrael Hayom shows that whether running separately or in single lists, parties on the left and right will be unable to help either Binyamin Netanyahu or Benny Gantz form a government of 61 MKs. The poll shows Blue and White getting 34 Knesset seats, with the Likud coming in at 30. United Torah Judaism would get eight seats, Shas seven, Jewish Home five, Labor five, Democratic Camp five, and New Right four. The United Arab List would get 15, while Yisrael Beytenu would get seven. A coalition of Blue and White, Democratic Camp and Labor would reach 44 seats, and even if the UAL were added – considered highly unlikely – the left coalition would get just 59 seats, with the rightwing coalition 54.

If all rightwing parties united, the single list would get 11 seats. The chareidi parties would get 15 seats together, and Democratic Camp and Labor would get the same five seats. Blue and White would remain at 34 seats, while the Likud would go down to 29. Yisrael Beytenu would get seven. Under this scenario, the rightwing coalition would get 55 seats, and the left 44. If Democratic Camp and Labor were to unite as well, results for the blocs would be exactly the same.

The left’s united list should be a major incentive for the right to unite as well, Jewish Home said in a statement Monday. “From the moment new elections were called we have worked to unite all parties to the right of the Likud. The unification on the left demands that we all act responsibly. There is a major threat to the right, and it may not govern after the next election. We are working at all times to achieve unity. We call on all our partners to meet and come to an agreement as soon as possible.”