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Far-right parties led by Smotrich, Ben Gvir merge ahead of elections

Two far-right parties have signed a merger agreement and will run jointly in the upcoming election.

The alliance brings together Bezalel Smotrich of the National Religious Party and Itamar Ben Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit.

The merger was reportedly pushed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. According to Channels 12 and 13 on Tuesday, the prime minister has promised Smotrich that he’ll place a candidate of Smotrich’s choice on Likud’s slate and offer him at least one ministerial portfolio if he merges with Otzma Yehudit.

Otzma Yehudit party member Itamar Ben Gvir (R) speaks with National Union faction leader Betzalel Smotrich during a campaign event in Bat Yam, April 6, 2019. (Flash90)

Otzma Yehudit is made up of followers of late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane. It supports encouraging emigration of non-Jews from Israel and expelling Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who refuse to declare loyalty to Israel and accept diminished status in an expanded Jewish state whose sovereignty extends throughout the West Bank. Ben Gvir’s former running mate, ex-MK Michael Ben-Ari, was disqualified from running for the Knesset over racism accusations.

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