New Right chairwoman Ayelet Shaked met with Union of Right-Wing Parties leader Rafi Peretz on Tuesday, a day after she revealed she had put forward a merger offer that would see her lead a joint slate with each faction receiving equal representation.
According to a statement put out by Peretz’s Jewish Home party, the two agreed that negotiating teams would meet in the coming days to advance the talks for a possible unification of the slates.
On Monday, Shaked said that her party had reached out with a proposal based on equal representation on a joint slate, saying “it’s the right thing to do, putting ego aside.”
Shaked was named New Right party leader at a Sunday night press conference, where she called on the other parties to the right of Likud to merge in a united slate under her leadership.
“We will run to the end, even if there are no mergers, but look at the polls yesterday that put us at eight seats. I believe that it is possible to be an independent and strong party, but would prefer to lead a broad right-wing union,” she said.
URWP officials had expressed initial opposition to the merger. “These arrogant preconditions do not seem to advance us toward unity,” URWP director general Yehuda Vald tweeted in response to a Walla report that revealed that Shaked demanded her party receive all the odd-numbered slots in the slate’s top ten while URWP would receive the even spots.
According to Ynet, Shaked expects that URWP’s spots will also include members of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, which quit its alliance with Jewish Home and National Union last month over disagreements with Peretz.
Peretz has thus far rejected the possibility of stepping down from the number one spot of any slate on which he would run. A group of prominent national religious rabbis had backed him up in recent weeks, asserting that a religious Zionist party should be run by someone who’s religious. Shaked is secular, in addition to being a woman, which some more hard-line rabbis have made an issue of.
Peretz is also reportedly being backed up by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who may want to avoid dealing with a strengthened far-right bloc in coalition negotiations.
Peretz, however, is facing pressure to cede his top spot from several prominent members of his base, following several weeks of political storm after he referred to the intermarriage rate among US Jewry as a “second Holocaust” and then spoke out in apparent support of gay conversion therapy.
A number of prominent spiritual leaders, among them Safed’s chief rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, said Monday that they now support Shaked as the leader of a bloc to the right of Likud.
Shaked’s number 2, Naftali Bennett, on Monday clarified that the type of merger he and Shaked were seeking was a “technical bloc.”
“Think of it as a bus that people board with different opinions and then when it gets to a certain benchmark, they get off and go their separate ways,” Bennett said.