Amsellem Meets With Shaked In An Effort To Broker A Deal

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Former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Sunday addressed the possibility of running in the upcoming Knesset election under the Bayit Yehudi slate, or possibly the New Right party headed by Naftali Bennet, which she co-founded. Simultaneously, she is hearing propositions regarding a deal to run with Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut (Identity) party.

Rabbi Chaim Amsellem, who in the last election ran in the number two slot on Feiglin’s list, is now working to broker a deal with Shaked, who according to recent polls maintains high electoral popularity. Amsellem met with Shaked a number of days ago near the Prime Minister’s Residence on Balfour Street in Jerusalem, and following the meeting, he visited the apartment of businessman Moti Zonnenfeld, who lives in that area and is known to be a close associate of Prime Minister Binyamin and Mrs. Sara Netanyahu. Amsellem reportedly tried to negotiate a deal between the New Right party and the Zehut party, amid the awareness the sides have signaled a willingness to combine lists, as in the last election, both failed to reach the minimum electoral threshold and as a result, both failed to enter Knesset. The New Right party however, unlike Zehut, fell only 1200 votes short. Feiglin’s party was far away from any realistic hope of entering Knesset, explaining his ongoing efforts to partner with another party in the hope of entering the next Knesset.

Speaking to the dati leumi Srugim website, Rav Amsellem said, “From the day the election was announced, efforts towards unity have been ongoing towards joining one another in a technical bloc.

“Unfortunately, there is much talk of achdus, but reality is another story. In my opinion, if unity is not achieved, the danger to all the Zionists parties will be palpable, and despite the differences between the parties, that which unties them will be the common denominator in the camp”.

Regarding mediation efforts, Rabbi Amsellem said, “I will not hide that I am working to meet all the part leaders, some of whom I met and some of whom I will meet, and all of them must begin a dialogue and open a new page”.

Last week, Zehut Chairman Moshe Feiglin wrote on his Facebook page that his party “is making an honest effort to join a technical block with Bennet and/or Shaked, but is not interested in a connection with Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Betzalel Smotrich, as he feels his party should not be identified as a religious one, as is the case with Bayit Yehudi.

Feiglin added, “I have great respect for the chareidim and their rabbonim, but the connection between them and Zehut is one of opposites and the damage of a union will outweigh the benefit”.

In the interview with Srugim last week, Amsellem explained that despite the harsh criticism against Bennet, the time has come to clean the slate and begin anew, for he feels achdus and shalom are required for the good of all the factions.

Regarding other right-wing parties, Amsellem states he is willing to speak with anyone, and that he spoke with Shaked in the past and explained that he would personally be happy to sit together with Rafi Peretz. He feels the bottom line ahead of the next election, which is set for September 17, 2019, is that the Zehut, New Right and URWP must unite into a technical bloc for the benefit of all.

URWP is the United Right-Wing Parties, which is a combination of Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit. Bayit Yehudi includes the Ichud Leumi faction, which is headed by Betzalel Smotrich, who holds the number two slot on the list, behind Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)