The Union of Right Wing Parties has reportedly offered former justice minister Ayelet Shaked the No. 2 spot on its slate if she joins without her political partner Naftali Bennett.
The URWP’s leaders Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich are seeking to separate the two (Hebrew link) former ministers — with Shaked seen as an electoral asset, while Bennett is viewed with distaste for quitting the leadership of Jewish Home to form New Right alongside Shaked, according to Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel group’s Hebrew site.
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.
According to the Zman report, whereas Shaked and Peretz have only met once, last week, she and Bennett are in daily contact, with Bennett having accepted that Shaked should lead the party and the two now just discussing the details.
Shaked announced Tuesday that she plans to run in September, but did not say whether she intends to continue with Bennett in the New Right or join another party.
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.”
The fledgling party narrowly failed to cross the electoral threshold in the elections, but with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having failed to cobble together a coalition before the May 30 deadline and initiating snap elections in September, the New Right has been given another opportunity to make it into the Knesset. Bennett has announced that it will compete again, but 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 URWP — an amalgam of the Jewish Home, National Union and Otzma Yehudit — over the possibility of a merger.
Yet there remains animosity between Jewish Home and Bennett over his ditching of 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.
On Wednesday Bennett said he had no intention of returning to the Jewish Home, claiming its intolerance was not representative of the national religious community that it purports to represent.
Bennett, the former education minister, was responding to remarks made earlier in the day by MK Moti Yogev, of the Jewish Home, who told Radio Galey Israel that his party would not welcome back someone who “betrayed” them.
Earlier this month Netanyahu fired both Shaked and Bennett from their respective positions as justice and education ministers.
Talks between the parties to the right of Likud have been ongoing and among the options presented in addition to a wholly unified list has been a “technical bloc” that would be assured of passing the electoral threshold but would break apart into is constituent parties immediately after the elections.
On Friday, a poll in the Makor Rishon paper found Shaked, though secular, to be far and away the most popular candidate among national religious voters to lead a united right-wing party in the upcoming elections. The survey found that 40.1% wanted Shaked to lead the hypothetical list. Bennett came second at 19%, while Smotrich received 15.1%, Peretz 14.8%, and far-right candidates Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit and Moshe Feiglin of the libertarian party Zehut 2.6% and 1%, respectively.