Ayelet Shaked Meets With Rafi Peretz to Negotiate Joint Run Ahead of Israeli Election

The two discussing which of them would lead merger, as polls predict union could turn their slate into third largest in the Knesset

Ayelet Shaked and Rafi Peretz.
Emil Salman, Olivier Fitoussi

Chairwoman of Hayamin Hehadash Party Ayelet Shaked met on Tuesday with Education Minister and Chairman of the Union of Right-wing Parties Rafi Peretz to discuss a joint run in the September 17 election.

The two said the meeting was productive and that their teams will negotiate a union in the coming days to decide who will lead the merged party.

On Sunday, Shaked announced that she will lead Hayamin Hehadash in place of former Education Minister Naftali Bennet, after their party failed to pass the electoral threshold in the April 9 election. She called for a large union of parties to the right of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, and said that she will lead the bloc. Peretz, on the other hand, insisted that a religious leader should head the party, which represents the religious-Zionist movement and advocates for Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

>> Read more: Shaked wants to lead the right. Netanyahu will do anything to stop her | Analysis ■ The paradox of religious Zionism | Opinion 

On Monday, Netanyahu called on Peretz not to join forces with Shaked, saying that the move would not attract votes for his party. Natanyahu’s wife, Sara, reportedly met with Peretz’s wife in order to make sure he doesn’t back down in negotiations. Shaked ran Netanyahu’s bureau from 2006 to 2008, when he was opposition leader, and is rumored to be at odds with Sara Netanyahu.

Hayamin Hehadash, on the other hand, warned that if Shaked doesn’t head the party, liberal right-wing voters will be deterred by the extremist views of the joint slate’s other leaders – particularly of Bezalel Smotrich, who called for Israel to follow biblical law, and Itamar Ben Gvir, who is a follower of the late extremist Rabbi Meir Kahane – and might vote instead for Avigdor Lieberman’s party.

According to polls published on Sunday by Israeli news channels 12 and 13, a coalition of right-wing parties led by Shaked would receive 12 to 13 Knesset seats in the election, setting it to become the third largest party after Netanyahu's Likud and Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan. 

If the union succeeds, the coalition will consist of four right-wing factions: Hayamin Hehadash (formed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked as a liberal offshoot of the political right-wing), Habayit Hayehudi (the former party of Bennett and Shaked, now headed by Peretz), National Union (headed by Smotrich) and Otzma Yehudit (headed by former followers of Kahane).

Another party that is in deliberations to join the right-wing union is Moshe Feiglin's Zehut, which combines libertarian sentiments (including marijuana legalization) with a religious settler ethos (including a Jewish one-solution and a Jewish Temple Mount).