Are Likud’s efforts to get small right-wing parties to drop out succeeding?

Facing a tight race, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried but failed to engineer a broad far-right bloc ahead of the September 17 race that would ensure as many right-wing votes as possible would be counted on election day.

In the end, the Yamina alliance of right-wing factions left out the extremist Otzma Yehudit and the nationalist-libertarian Zehut, which themselves could not agree on a joint ticket.

Netanyahu’s efforts since have focused on convincing those parties to drop out of the race altogether, in the hope that their voters will instead support either Likud or Yamina, and so ensure as large a right-wing bloc as possible after election day.

Channel 12 says Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin is seriously considering bowing out of the race after Netanyahu reportedly promised him a senior economy-oriented ministerial appointment if he does so.

Asked for comment, Zehut tells Channel 12 that it is running.

At the same time, Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir meets today with Netanyahu’s longtime fixer and closest political confidant Natan Eshel.

Ben Gvir claims he asked for the meeting, and the idea of Otzma Yehudit dropping out of the race didn’t come up. Ben Gvir says the meeting consisted of him apparently trying to enlist Likud’s help for Otzma Yehudit’s campaign. He says he told Eshel that without his faction passing the 3.25 percent electoral threshold, “there won’t be a right-wing government.”

Otzma Yehudit has struggled to draw half that figure in recent polls.

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