Zehut submits candidate slate, closing door on merger with United Right
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Zehut submits candidate slate, closing door on merger with United Right

Moshe Feiglin’s party to go it alone in September elections, despite calls from right-wing alliance to join forces

Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin submits his party's list of candidates to the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset on July 31, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin submits his party's list of candidates to the Central Elections Committee at the Knesset on July 31, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Zehut party submitted its final slate of candidates Wednesday, putting to bed the idea of a potential link-up with the United Right electoral alliance ahead of the elections on September 17.

Zehut, a quasi-libertarian outfit led by far-right former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin, generated substantial buzz ahead of the last elections in April with its support for marijuana legislation, but failed to receive sufficient votes to enter the Knesset.

The party had been in talks with the New Right — which also came up short in the previous elections — on a joint run, but after the latter merged with the Union of Right-Wing Parties earlier this week to create the United Right, Feiglin said Zehut would run alone.

Speaking with reporters after submitting his slate Wednesday, Feiglin was optimistic about Zehut’s chances in the September vote, saying that if it clears the minimum electoral threshold, it will recommend “whoever is chosen to lead the national camp” as prime minister.

The Central Elections Committee opened its doors on Wednesday for parties jostling for the Knesset’s 120 seats to register their rosters ahead of the September 17 elections. With over 40 parties in total having taken registration forms, only nine had filed by Wednesday afternoon, setting up a potentially busy day on Thursday before the midnight deadline.

Before Zehut, representatives from Yisrael Beytenu party filed its slate, vowing, as leader Avigdor Liberman had done the night before, to force a national unity government between Likud and the centrist Blue and White party.

After refusing to endorse Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of the last elections and saying he would join any government that would accept his demands, Feiglin asserted in May that Zehut would emphasize that it is right-wing this time around.

He also said then the party would be “more modest” compared to the last election, when Zehut appeared as a potential kingmaker and a party source said two days before the vote that Feiglin may recommend himself as prime minister.

Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin (L) is seen during an election campaign stop in Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda market on April 4, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Feiglin’s decision to go it alone came after the far-right Otzma Yehudit and Noam parties announced Wednesday morning they had reached an agreement on terms for a joint election run.

Otzma Yehudit, whose leaders are self-described disciples of the late extremist rabbi Meir Kahane, and Noam, which is campaigning on combating LGBT acceptance, first announced Sunday they had agreed to a joint run.

That announcement came as Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz declared that he had agreed to give New Right leader Ayelet Shaked the top spot on a joint right-wing electoral ticket for the September 17 elections. The two factions finalized the merger deal on Monday, with the new slate to be called United Right.

(L) Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked attends Yakir of Jewish Law ceremony in Tel Aviv on June 12, 2019. (Flash90). Otzma Yehudit party member Itamar Ben Gvir during an election campaign event in Bat Yam on April 6, 2019. (Flash90)

Otzma Yehudit ran in the URWP in the last elections as part of an alliance brokered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but split off over what it said was Peretz’s failure to honor the terms of their electoral pact.

The extremist party has since held talks to again team up with URWP, and Shaked said earlier this week she would continue to work to bring it into the United Right, though the sides have been at odds over what spot on the list Ben Gvir would receive.

According to a Channel 12 poll aired Tuesday, Otzma Yehudit and Noam would receive 1.2 percent and 0.3%, respectively, of the vote, which combined would fall well short of the 3.25% needed to enter the Knesset.

While the survey predicted Zehut would get 1.4% of the vote, a Channel 13 poll last week had the party clearing the minimum electoral threshold and picking up four seats.

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