Israel Election: Yamina's Shaked, ex-Minister Hendel Announce Merger in Bid for Survival

Two parties at risk – Yamina, which didn't qualify for the Knesset in the latest election poll, and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel's Derech Eretz, excluded from Gideon Sa'ar and Benny Gant'z joint bid – will run together in Israel's November election

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Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel signing an agreement to run together in Israel's November election, on Tuesday.
Ayelet Shaked and Yoaz Hendel signing an agreement to run together in Israel's November election, on Tuesday.Credit: Ariel Zandberg

Ayelet Shaked's Yamina and former Communication Minister Yoaz Hendel's Derech Eretz parties agreed on Tuesday on a joint run in Israel's November election, days after an early election poll forecasted the faltering Yamina party would not qualify for the next Knesset.

In a joint statement to the press, Shaked spoke against the dangers of polarization and political boycotts, arguing that Israel needs a broad government to avoid yet another election cycle.

"The next election will be a crucial moment for Israel," she told a crowd of supporters, announcing the name of the new party, the Zionist Spirit.

Negotiating teams for both parties finalized the agreement, which was signed on Tuesday evening. Shaked and Hendel said they would "bring a new spirit to Israel."

Derech Eretz, led by Hendel alongside lawmaker Zvi Hauser, had run as part of Gideon Sa'ar's New Hope list in the previous election after splitting from Benny Gantz's Kahol Lavan alliance. But after Sa'ar and Gantz announced a merger, the two found themselves excluded from the emerging candidate slate.

Lawmakers Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser at the Knesset last year.Credit: אוליבייה פיטוסי

Since then, its members have been in talks with Shaked and her party.

Lawmaker Abir Kara from Yamina participated about two weeks ago in a conference organized by Hendel and said he "hopes that now we will join forces."

Hendel said at the conference that he hopes opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu isn't elected to lead the next government. "I will accept any democratic decision, but I will work hard so that this does not happen," he added, "I am firmly opposed to a narrow government with him, but the center-left is not our ideological home either."

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