Feiglin strikes deal with Netanyahu to save right-wing votes, legalize cannabis

Zehut party leader will join forces with Netahyahu’s Likud in a move that can prevent the loss of a large number of right-wing votes. 

By World Israel News Staff

Zehut party leader Moshe Feiglin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in a joint press conference on Thursday in Ramat Gan that they will combine forces ahead of the September elections.

The agreement is significant in that it will prevent right-wing votes from being wasted.

Netanyahu promised that Feiglin will hold a ministerial position if a right-wing government is formed after the elections. Feiglin will not run separately as head of his own party.

“It’s important that we combine before the elections and after the elections,” Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu said that it was the first time the two had held long, serious conversations and he was struck by their agreement on many important issues regarding the free-market, reducing regulation, and the rights of the individual.

The agreement is a win for both sides. Netanyahu throws a protective net over a large bloc of right-wing votes. Feiglin avoids political irrelevance as polls show that his party will not pass the electoral threshold.

Feiglin had already hinted at a deal after meeting with Netanyahu on Wednesday. It was a reversal from his past statements, one as late as Tuesday in which he said that his party was ready to move “full steam ahead” toward the September elections. He described as “fake” news reports that his party was withdrawing from the race.

But on Wednesday, Feiglin said in an interview with Army Radio, “I have now met with the prime minister. We are making progress toward an agreement whereby I give up running in exchange for a role in government and the main thing: We will open the medical cannabis market.”

The key issue for Feiglin is marijuana legalization. He said after Wednesday’s meeting, “To my delight, the prime minister examined the issue extensively and, after long hours and consultation with professionals we came up with a solution, the significance of which is to legalize the cannabis market for the patients.”

“That is, the patients can purchase the medicine they deserve, exactly according to the type and dosage prescribed by the treating doctor, from every provider in Israel and worldwide, through the pharmacies in Israel and without further intervention by the Unit for Medical Cannabis,” Feiglin said.

Feiglin ran in April’s election on a highly detailed platform promoting free-market and libertarian ideas. However, then as now, the central issue was legalization of cannabis.

His party failed to pass the electoral threshold in that election, despite polls showing him gaining as many as six Knesset seats. Though falling short, he nevertheless cost the right-wing a significant number of votes (roughly 118,000).

Netanyahu is intent on avoiding a repetition of such a scenario.

Regarding the Wednesday meeting, the Likud party said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu is making tremendous efforts to prevent wasted votes on the right. There is significant progress between the Likud and Feiglin and Zehut, but an agreement has not yet been reached. When it is reached, we will publish it.”