Right-wing Zehut Party Won't Run in Israel's Third Election

Zehut, identified with rebuilding the Temple, legalization of marijuana and free capitalist economy, will run again 'when Israeli society is ripe for change,' said Feiglin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, greets Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin, during a joint press conference in Tel Aviv, Israel, August 29, 2019.
Ariel Schalit / AP

Former Knesset member Moshe Feiglin announced Friday that his right-wing Zehut party will not run in the upcoming Knesset election, because given the political atmosphere today, people are "not attentive to its message."

Zehut, which is mainly identified with rebuilding the Temple, the legalization of recreational marijuana and a free capitalist economy, will run again “when Israeli society is ripe for change,” said Feiglin, the party's chairman.  

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Feiglin also commented on the party’s success when it ran in the April Knesset election. “At our amazing rallies we tasted true redemption. The polls forecast eight Knesset seats, or even more, and imagine how Israel would stand today if the power found in [Avigdor] Lieberman’s empty hands would be at the call of Zehut’s wonderful platform. But because of our sins, it did not happen. I don’t blame anyone but myself,” wrote Feiglin in the announcement on Facebook.

As for the September election and his decision to join forces with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud, Feiglin said the party's message was lost after it openly placed itself on the right, and especially after joining up with Netanyahu. Nothing was left from the “space of identity and synergy that we created between the Jew and the Israeli. We were completely lost within the old and vacuous right/left space,” said Feiglin.  

On Thursday, Zehut's chairman said the agreement he signed with Netanyahu before the September election had expired, and the party would have to decide whether to run in the March election. He said Zehut has to run on its own, and should not join any other party, or any side. He also added that “if now it is incapable of doing so, then we will wait and operate as an ideological movement.”

Zehut had been called the surprise of the April election after it garnered 118,000 votes and was close to passing the electoral threshold, and entering the Knesset

The party decided not to run in the September election, yet Feiglin reached a deal with Netanyahu in which he would be appointed to a cabinet post if the prime minister formed a new government. “Zehut never joined Likud, and no secret appendix was added to the agreement with Netanyahu," said Feiglin. “Zehut remained totally independent.”