Unity on the Right, Minus Otzma Yehudit

YERUSHALAYIM -
Naftali Bennett speaks with MK Rafi Peretz. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With less than an hour to go before the deadline for filing electoral lists, it was announced on Wednesday night that Israel’s right wing parties had reached a unity agreement.

Following weeks of wrangling and a last day of furious back-and-forth, Jewish Home, led by Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz, New Right, led by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and National Union, led by Transportation Minister Betzalel Smotrich said they will run on a single slate in the March 2 election. The alliance will be called Yemina, restoring the name it had in its previous incarnation last September.

Bennett was seen in a Knesset Channel video clip literally running to deliver the new party list to the Central Elections Committee to meet the deadline.

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir confirmed to the Jerusalem Post that his party will run on its own. Earlier in the day, Bennett released a statement absolutely ruling out any chance of joining a slate with Ben-Gvir and his far-right supporters.

Evidently, Rabbi Peretz, reportedly under tremendous pressure from Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏ and others on the right, was persuaded in the end to cancel the Jewish Home-Otzma Yehudit merger, which was in danger of failing to pass the electoral threshold.

Bennett will top the list, Rabbi Peretz will be second, Ayelet Shaked third and Smotrich fourth. In fifth place will be Matan Kahane followed by Ophir Sofer. The seventh and eighth places will be given to the Jewish Home and ninth place to the New Right, according to Arutz Sheva.

The news came shortly after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu held an emergency meeting with Bennett and Rabbi Peretz on Wednesday evening for one last attempt at resolving the differences. National-Religious leader Rabbi Haim Druckman was reportedly in attendance as well, to encourage the politicians to work out an agreement to avert disaster at the polls on March 2.

It was not immediately known what was said at that meeting or how it affected the outcome.