National Union head Bezalel Smotrich says the prime minister even called his father to pressure smaller parties to run together in the April election.
By World Israel News staff
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is making his call for unity on the right of the political spectrum a personal issue.
The Likud leader has warned repeatedly ahead of the April 9th Knesset election that if right-wing parties splinter, and don’t unite into fewer lists, the center-left will win. He attaches to his warning the memory of 1992 when Yitzhak Rabin’s Labor party prevailed over the Likud.
The result was the Oslo process which granted self-rule to the Palestinian Authority in Judea, Samaria, and the Gaza Strip. The proliferation of right-wing parties in the ’92 election is blamed for contributing towards the Labor victory.
Now, just a couple of days before the deadline for the lists to register for the upcoming ballot, Netanyahu has taken to the phones to try to ensure that some of the rightist parties run on a joint list. Specifically, the prime minister is targeting the smallest parties which risk wasting right-wing votes by not even gaining enough votes to enter the Knesset if they run separately.
Public opinion polls show that the current composition of the government coalition would not gain a majority in the next Knesset.
The problem has been exacerbated, from the right’s perspective, by the formation of the New Right party, headed by current cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
The two quit the Jewish Home party, which now risks falling below the minimum required to win a seat in parliament, even on a joint list with National Union.
MK Bezalel Smotrich, leader of National Union, is confirming a Channel 13 report that the prime minister called his father to help pressure Jewish Home-National Union to take in further right parties Otzma Yehudit and Yachad.
Netanyahu reportedly also phoned national religious rabbis who have influence over the leadership of Jewish Home to convince them to pressure the party into a joint list.
The phone calls are said to have followed the Jewish Home’s decision to decline an invitation to meet with Netanyahu in person to discuss the matter.
Parties have until Thursday at 10 p.m. to submit their final slates for the upcoming elections.
“We are running an independent party that makes its own decisions and is not managed by the prime minister or anyone else,” party leaders Rabbi Rafi Peretz and Smotrich said in a statement explaining their decision not to meet with the prime minister.
Yachad party leader Eli Yishai says he has rejected a Netanyahu offer to receive a ministerial portfolio after the April election if he joins forces with Jewish Home.