Current MKs take top spots in Religious Zionism primaries

Carrie Keller-Lynn is a former political and legal correspondent for The Times of Israel

Jewish Home and National Union alliance member MK Ofir Sofer, at a faction meeting at the Knesset, on November 11, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
MK Ofir Sofer, at a faction meeting at the Knesset, on November 11, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Current lawmakers lead Religious Zionism’s primary results, with MKs Ofir Sofer, Orit Strock, Simcha Rothman and Michal Waldiger, respectively, nabbing one through four on the party’s slate — the likely only realistic spots — behind party leader Bezalel Smotrich.

Hard-right newcomers Tzvi Succot and Arnon Segal place below the party’s likely expected threshold, at spots five and eight, respectively.

Although currently running separately, Smotrich is expected to try to reunify with ultra-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit party in advance of the November 1 elections.

“I call to Itamar – my hand is extended in unity,” Smotrich says while announcing primary results, acknowledging that opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu is pressing for the merger to conserve votes on the right.

Together, Smotrich and Ben Gvir poll between 10 and 13 seats.

Smotrich is also reportedly negotiating with former Yamina MK Amichai Chikli to run on a joint list.

Either unification will peel seats off of Religious Zionism’s primary list, reducing the impact of the exercise.

Eight-one percent of the party’s 24,000 registered members voted in today’s primary.

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