Far-right Leader Admits in Talks With Netanyahu on Dropping Out of Election Race

Moshe Feiglin says he conditions the deal on receiving a role in the next government and canceling the current medicinal cannabis reform

Far-right Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin in Tel Aviv, August 27, 2019.
Ofer Vaknin

‎Far-right Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin said on Wednesday that progress had been made toward striking a deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to drop out of the September 17 election in exchange for a role in the next government and canceling the medicinal cannabis reform.

Likud confirmed that the talks with Feiglin are at an advanced stage. "Netanyahu is investing tremendous efforts to prevent right-wing votes from going to waste. The gist of the agreement with Feiglin concerns free-market economy policy," Likud said in a statement.     

Speaking to Army Radio, Feiglin said that "during my late-night meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, I reiterated my request to cancel the medicinal cannabis reform," which is based on a free market scenario, with the assumption being that competition between providers will benefit consumers, leading to a fairer link between quantities and types of products and their prices, "which is killing patients."

He added, "The prime minister got to the bottom of things and after many hours of consultations with professionals, we formulated a solution which will lead to the legalization of cannabis for those who need it, which means patients would be able to purchase the medicine they are entitled to," Feiglin said.

He stressed that he would present the deal to his party members before finalizing it.

In a video released Wednesday, Feiglin stressed the need to cancel the cannabis reform, saying that he told his party activists Tuesday that in order to do so, "We're ready to enter negotiations with the prime minister." That same night, he said, he was invited to do so. Feiglin and Netanyahu talked for hours, Feiglin said, "and I'm happy to report that there's very significant progress on the issue and on other important issues in Zehut's platform."

There is still no formal agreement, Feiglin said, and any agreement would go to a referendum of party members. Regardless, Feiglin said that Zehut said that the party's influence may reach from within the government rather from within the Knesset, but that has yet to be determined. 

Zehut held a convention on Tuesday in Tel Aviv with the attendance of several hundreds of its supports in an attempt to signal that the party has no intention of dropping out of the election race.

Nevertheless, party members have admitted over the past two days that they were pressured not to contend in the September vote, noting they will examine the possibility of withdrawing their candidacy, if an "offer that significantly promotes Zehut's platform is presented before them."

While delivering his speech in Tel Aviv, Feiglin stressed he is not abandoning his intention to run for Knesset. "This time we won't rush to save other parties nor we'll be frightened by gevalt cries. This time we understand that if we don't vote, our dream won't come true. Don’t go without donating to the campaign."