Israel Election: Shaked Announces Joint Run With Bennett, Stamping Out Rumors of Right-wing Split

Meanwhile, Democratic Union leaders disagree on primary election proposal

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Ayelet Shaked in September 2019.
Ayelet Shaked in September 2019.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Lawmaker Ayelet Shaked plans to run alongside Defense Minister Naftali Bennett in the upcoming March 2 election as part of the Hayamin Hehadash party that the two founded in April, the former justice minister said Thursday.

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Hayamin Hehadash, which Shaked and Bennett launched after quitting Habayit Hayehudi, failed to cross the threshold required to enter the Knesset in the April 2019 election. For the September 2019 election, the party ran on a joint religious Zionist slate alongside Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union.

Plans for the upcoming election recently caused tensions between Bennett and Shaked. Bennett sought to launch the party's campaign, while Shaked was mulling whether to run with him or to run as part of Habayit Hayehudi. Bennett began campaigning alone and appeared in an ad by himself, leading to rumors that Shaked planned to exit the pair's longstanding alliance. 

Also Thursday, Democratic Union co-leader Stav Shaffir suggested that Meretz's Esawi Freige be placed in the second spot on the alliance's election slate – where she is currently positioned – if Meretz agrees to a primary for the Democratic Union's leadership.

The proposal follows criticism during the previous election campaign that the Democratic Union had failed to place an Arab candidate in a sufficiently high spot on its slate – a spot that would give the candidate a real chance at entering the Knesset. 

Meretz Chairman Nitzan Horowitz told Haaretz that he had not heard of any such proposal, while a source in Meretz rejected the idea, saying that Meretz had held a primary only a few months ago.

Freige meanwhile told Haaretz that he disliked the idea that "in the coming election, the Arab voter won't have an alternative to the Joint List. Kahol Lavan has no Arab candidate. The left-wing bloc has no Arab candidate. Where is the political logic?"

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud was ordered by an internal tribunal to hold an election to choose its slate ahead of the election, rescinding a decision made by the party’s central committee to keep the same slate that ran in the past two elections.

Another petition waiting for the party court’s decision was submitted by the so-called New Likudniks, which the Likud establishment opposes. The group, which supports lawmaker Gideon Sa’ar to lead the party, objected to the expulsion of many of its members from the party rolls on the eve of the leadership primary. Sa’ar plans on sticking to his campaign for the primary election, saying he is the only one who can increase the size of the right-wing bloc in the next election and form a new government.