The New Right will run in new elections if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unable to form a coalition by the Wednesday night deadline, a senior official from the faction, which failed to cross the electoral threshold in last month’s vote, confirmed on Monday.
However, the the fate of the partnership between the party’s co-founders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, appeared to be as uncertain as ever.
The official told The Times of Israel that the party would run “with or without Shaked” and that it would seek to form new alliances to broaden its appeal and ensure its entry into the Knesset.
Not all candidates from the party’s slate in the April elections were aware of the plan expressed by the senior official, The Times of Israel has learned.
The official’s declaration came as rumors swirled regarding Shaked’s political future.
The outgoing justice minister left the Jewish Home party along with Bennett in December in order to form the New Right party, which campaigned to the right of Likud on security issues, while representing what it referred to as a “secular-religious partnership.” The party fell a couple of thousand votes shy of the 3.25 percent of the national vote necessary to make it into the 20th Knesset.
Over the past month and a half, Bennett and Shaked have made almost no appearances in front of the media and the latter had reportedly been preparing to join the Likud party, expecting the next election to be a year or two down the line.
But Netanyahu’s failure to build a coalition due to an impasse between the Yisrael Beytenu party and the ultra-Orthodox factions over legislation regulating exemptions from military service for yeshiva students has placed Shaked and the New Right in a position where they may need to decide whether to return to politics much sooner than they likely expected.
On Sunday, Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman said he would welcome Shaked to his party if new elections were in fact called. Channel 13 reported that the two had met twice in recent weeks since the elections, with one of the sit-downs being an extensive one-on-one meet.
However, Shaked clarified in a Monday speech at a legal conference in Eilat that reports stating that she was preparing to join Yisrael Beytenu were incorrect.
Rafi Peretz, who now leads the Jewish Home party that Shaked bolted, told the Knesset Channel hours earlier that the outgoing justice minister would have to “knock nicely at the [party’s] door” if she wanted to rejoin, at which point the possibility would require consideration.