The Knesset announced Friday that Ayelet Shaked’s Orthodox-nationalist Yamina alliance would break into two separate factions early next week, days after lawmakers were sworn in as new parliament members.
According to the Knesset Arrangements committee, the alliance was splitting back into New Right and Jewish Home as originally planned before the joint Knesset run. The National Union will stay partnered with the Jewish Home.
The alliance had announced it would break into factions minutes after exit polls for the September elections showed the party comfortably sliding into the Knesset. In September, Shaked indicated that she didn’t support dissolving Yamina, citing “what’s right” for the country, but said it was important to uphold campaign promises.
Meanwhile, Jewish Home leader and Education Minister Rafi Peretz on Friday pledged his support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in coalition negotiations, and voiced his faction’s belief that a broad unity government would be the best possible outcome.
“In this morning’s talk with Netanyahu and Likud members, I announced that we support Netanyahu and the right-wing bloc,” Peretz tweeted. “We think that a broad unity government is the order of the hour and believe it is certainly possible.”
Following the elections, the leaders of the national-religious Yamina alliance and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties signed an agreement with Netanyahu pledging to enter coalition negotiations as one 55-strong bloc led by the Likud leader.
Peretz’s announcement came after Hebrew media reports on Thursday night that Netanyahu was continuing to push for his allies to sign a declaration that they will not support any other candidate for the leadership position right up to the point that new elections are called, if it comes to that.
The idea of formally pledging support to Netanyahu was first floated during a Wednesday meeting between leaders of the right-wing religious bloc led by Likud, but the Yamina and United Torah Judaism parties were said initially to refuse.
Shaked’s New Right, the National Union and the Jewish Home came together ahead of the election to run on a joint slate as Yamina to ensure they all clear the 3.25% electoral threshold.
Shaked and Bennett split from the Jewish Home in December 2018 to form the New Right in a bid to appeal to less religious nationalist voters. The two had hoped to pull votes away from both Likud and the Union of Right-Wing Parties – a faction comprising of the Jewish Home, the National Union and the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party – but the maneuver failed and New Right did not pass the 3.25% electoral threshold in the April 9 elections.
Ahead of September’s vote, the New Right joined forces with Jewish Home and the National Union to form the Yamina alliance. In an attempt to broaden voter appeal, it named Shaked – a controversial but very popular politician – as its leader.
However, a review of the New Right’s party bylaws by The Times of Israel partner site Zman Yisrael last month revealed that Bennett remains the New Right’s chairman, despite Shaked being publicly presented as its leader throughout the campaign and being placed at No. 1 on Yamina’s Knesset slate.
The reason for the ambiguity appears to be part of the party’s effort to maintain Shaked’s status as head of Yamina during the election campaign and defer any discussion on the faction’s political future.