In Complete Reversal In Less Than A Day, New Right Forms Merger With National Union

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The leaders of the New Right party, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked

If you don’t like politics, just wait five minutes. Following the New Right’s announcement on Monday that the party is running independently for the upcoming elections in March and will cater to the liberal, ideological right, a new announcement was made on Tuesday morning by the New Right and the far-right National Union that they are running on a joint ticket.

The National Union, headed by Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, announced on Monday night that negotiations to merge the party with Bayit Yehudi, headed by Education Minister Rafi Peretz, have reached a deadlock.

On Tuesday morning, a day before the January 15 deadline to submit party lists, the New Right and the National Union returned to the negotiation table. There were previous negotiations between the two parties initiated by Smotrich but the New Right ultimately chose against a merger. This time, the negotiations concluded in a merger.

Defense Minister and chairman of the New Right will head the combined list, followed by Ayelet Shaked in second place, National Union chairman Smotrich in third place, National Union MK Ofir Sofer in fourth place and New Right MK Matan Kahana in fifth place.

The New Right and National Union called on Bayit Yehudi to join the joint ticket as well.

“This is a great day,” said Bennett. “We have reunited the family. We’ve brought about a large alliance in the ideological Right and religious Zionism – from the traditional to the chardalim [Chareidi-Dati Leumi), from the knitted kippas to those without kippas, from Tel Aviv to Kedumim.”

“I call on my friend, Rabbi Rafi Peretz, to join us immediately to form a single united party, for the victory of the national camp.”

Bennett sent a letter on Tuesday afternoon to New Right activists explaining what led to the decision to merge with the National Union. He said that he preferred an independent run but only on the condition that all the right-wing parties to the right of Likud pass the threshold.

Bennett said he met with Zehut chairman Moshe Feiglin on Monday night but the latter declined to join him.

“Around 11 p.m., when I understood the full picture I decided to unite us, the New Right with Bayit Yehudi and the National Union. We conducted negotiations throughout the night and signed on a merger with the National Union at six in the morning.”

Bennett added that “the political process is to act according to your values but also according to reality…to do everything in order that the national camp will definitely win and not risk a left-wing victory.”

It seems unlikely at this point that Bayit Yehudi will join the merger. The party responded to the announcement by saying: “The real faces of Smotrich and Bennett have been revealed – the breakdown of religious Zionism. Naftali is returning to his bitter mistake from the first election and now Bezalel joined in the serious mistake…Bayit Yehudi will continue forward and will announce our next move soon.”

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)