Feiglin mulls run with Shaked, Bennett; rejects other rightists

Feiglin mulls run with Shaked, Bennett; rejects other rightists

The pro-marijuana, libertarian head of Zehut says unlike URWP, New Right strikes the best balance to appeal to wider Israeli public

Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin is seen in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, during a campaign stop on April 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin is seen in Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda market, during a campaign stop on April 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Far-right politician and head of the quasi-libertarian, pro-cannabis Zehut party Moshe Feiglin on Wednesday said he was mulling the idea of teaming up with New Right leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked for upcoming elections, rejecting the possibility of joining the existing union of right-wing religious nationalist parties.

Feiglin, whose political hopes fizzled with a lackluster result in the April election, wrote on Facebook that Zehut is “making a sincere effort to join a technical bloc with Bennett and/or Shaked, but is not interested in joining with Rabbi Peretz and MK Smotrich.”

MK Rafi Peretz, and his No. 2 MK Bezalel Smotrich, lead the Union of Right Wing Parties, an amalgamation of the Jewish Home, National Union and Otzma Yehudit national religious parties which won five Knesset seats in April elections.

Both the Zehut and New Right parties failed to clear the electoral threshold to make it into the 21st Knesset in the April 9 elections, but are looking to make a political comeback in the September 17 elections.

His remarks came as the various right-wing parties planning to run in coming elections consider overcoming their differences in order to cooperate in the elections to maximize their chances at crossing the electoral threshhold and winning seats.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (R), Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (L), hold a press conference of the New Right party, in Tel Aviv on March 17, 2019. (Flash90)

“The advantage of the politics of the New Right is its openness to the secular,” Feiglin wrote. “It does not treat it with paternalism while shirking responsibility for daily life. The New Right has shed partisanship. It appeals to the entire nation, and if you are not a hard leftist, it does not antagonize you.”

“Zehut does not consider itself part of religious Zionism or any other sector,” Feiglin added. “Within Zehut there has already been created, to a large extent, the synergy required. The terms ‘secular’ and ‘religious’ – and to a certain extent the dichotomous division of right and left – are no longer relevant in the Zehut realm.”

Earlier this month Feiglin confirmed that he had met with Bennett to discuss cooperating in the upcoming election campaign.

New Right’s failure to win Knesset seats in April’s election — the party was only about 1,500 votes shy of clearing the electoral threshold and securing four seats in the legislature — threw Bennett and Shaked into the political wilderness, but with the failure of coalition talks and the announcement of a new election in September, the two are poised to make a second run for office.

While parties on the right — notably the ruling Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the URWP– have reportedly been interested in Shaked joining their team, she has yet to announce her election plans other than saying she intends to run.

Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz (R) and National Union faction chair Bezalel Smotrich at the party’s 2019 election campaign launch, March 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

However, Shaked is seen as more likely to accept Bennett’s reported offer to once again run with him in New Right — but this time as the slate’s no. 1 candidate rather than their previous co-leadership.

Last December, ahead of the elections in April, Bennett and Shaked left the Jewish Home in order to form the New Right, which campaigned to the right of Likud on security issues, while representing what it referred to as a “secular-religious partnership.”

New Right has announced that it will seek to form alliances with other factions in order to broaden its appeal. As part of this effort, it has entered into talks with Peretz and Smotrich’s URWP over the possibility of a merger.

Yet there remains animosity between Jewish Home and Bennett over his ditching the party before the last elections, which he justified at the time as being due to narrow-minded attitudes on the part of its spiritual leadership.

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