Right-wing Parties Will Merge Within Hours or Days, Israeli Far Right Leader Says

Controversial lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich says his National Union party is in talks with other outfits to run together in the general election on April 9

MK Bezalel Smotrich on February 4, 2019.
\ Ilan Assayag

The chairman of the National Union party, Bezalel Smotrich, said on Tuesday that unification of Israeli right-wing parties is a matter of “hours or days.”

Speaking at a conference hosted by right-wing station Arutz 7 in Jerusalem, Smotrich said: “The news is that we are running together. The news is that we are making every effort, and you know why? I’ll say it clearly: Both us and Habayit Hayehudi represent a strong backbone, but it has to be with Otzma and Eli Yishai’s Yahad.”

Smotrich asserted that the four parties have a broad common denominator. “We don't have the privilege to be too particular and to seek out differences in opinion and style,” he said. “We don't have the privilege to be adventurous and lose votes.”

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Smotrich said that personally, he was doing all he could for National Union.” However, he noted, “I have compromised, do compromise and will continue to compromise because unity is more important.”

He said the tent on the right is bigger than any individual, certainly himself. “I surely hope that we will find such readiness for compromise on all sides so that we will be able to complete this most important task as quickly as possible,” he said.

Earlier Tuesday, Smotrich told Army Radio that he was prepared to concede leadership of a unified list. “I gave up on the first spot in my first meeting with (Habayit Hayehudi chairman Rafi) Peretz,” he said. “I am giving up on the top spot. There is no ego. We will run jointly.”

Smotrich said at the conference that Naftali Bennett was in bad shape after bolting with Ayelet Shaked from Habayit Hayehudi to form Hayamin Hehadash. “That’s the truth,” he said. “He went on his way and thought here’s the Messiah making a surprise, and that all the secular right would fall for him. He thought we were like a millstone around his neck. Bennett, you left religious Zionism. If Naftali wants to come home, he is invited to knock on the door, and we’ll think about it.”