Netanyahu fears former Likud MK will hurt Israel’s right

Zehut, the party of Moshe Feiglin, will enter the Knesset in next month’s election, according to some polls.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

The results of an election poll released Monday by the Ha’aretz daily, conducted by the Dialog Company, show that the Zehut party, headed by former Likud Member of Knesset Moshe Feiglin, will receive enough votes in next month’s national election to win four seats in the 120-seat parliament.

Zehut has been showing up more often recently in pre-election polls as rising above the 3.25% minimum of the vote required to enter the Knesset, after most surveys had shown it failing to do so.

Feiglin is a right-wing MK, strong on supporting Israel as the Jewish State and promoting such views as the right of Jews to pray on the Temple Mount. Currently, Jews may visit but are prevented by the Waqf Islamic Trust, which administers the site, from praying.

However, he is seen as a pragmatist in advancing other causes as well, which could be the determining factor in getting his party into parliament.

Perhaps most prominent among the other causes is his support for the legalization of marijuana. If he succeeds in entering the Knesset, he could work together on this issue with left-wing Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, who is also a strong proponent.

“Zehut believes that there is no justification for treating hundreds of thousands of cannabis consumers as criminals,” says the Zehut platform, adding that “cannabis is no more addictive than other legal substances that harm no one.”

This issue falls under the platform’s category of “Liberty and Internal and External Security,” which includes sections on “Eliminating Police Violence” and the right to bear arms, with the party saying that it “sees denial of the right of civilians to bear arms as an infringement of their right to self-defense.”

The party principles also include socio-economic issues such as reducing the national debt, health, and transportation.

Zehut’s diplomatic platform

Despite the effort to draw a broader base, Zehut maintains a right-wing diplomatic platform which ultimately offers three options to “non-Jewish residents” of Judea and Samaria.

– Assistance in immigration: The state will enable interested residents to sell their property and help them emigrate to the destination of their choice.

– Residency: Those who wish to remain and declare their allegiance openly will receive the status of permanent residents in the Jewish state. All their human and property rights shall be preserved in the same manner as those of other Western countries.

– Citizenship: Those who wish to be loyal citizens and serve in the army will be able to receive full citizenship after a long and thorough examination track.

Zehut: Price of American security aid too high

Zehut “does not see American aid to the State of Israel as a cardinal guarantee of its security, never to be relinquished. The price of this ‘gift’ is too high,” says Zehut.

“In terms of security, receiving aid creates Israeli dependence on America, which then receives legitimacy to intervene in Israeli security matters,” reads the party platform.

Feiglin emphasized his bid to reach a broad base among the Israeli public by holding an online party primary that was open to all Israeli citizens who are eligible to vote in the Knesset ballot, and not just party members.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has seen Feiglin throughout the years as a nemesis, not because he has the same numbers of supporters as the prime minister, but rather due to what was seen as Feiglin’s ability to bring in outsiders to register with the Likud and vote in the party primary with the aim of shaking up the traditional base of the party.

Feiglin ran unsuccessfully three times against Netanyahu for the Likud chairmanship. Netanyahu tried to keep him out of parliament, but in  2013 Feiglin was elected as a Likud MK.

After losing support in the 2015 Likud primary, Feiglin founded Zehut.

Netanyahu’s concerns

Netanyahu is warning that Zehut’s bid in next month’s election will hurt the right-wing effort to maintain its Knesset majority because the votes of parties that do not succeed in entering the parliament are wasted. He is also said to be worried that votes for Zehut would take away from the Likud.

And finally, Netanyahu apparently would not cherish the prospect of having to work with Feiglin in the event that Zehut enters the Knesset and becomes a potential partner in the government coalition.