‘Splitting the right’: Likud pours wrath down on Bennett, Shaked

Likud Party members voiced their disapproval of the “New Right” Party, whose creation was announced Saturday evening at a special press conference by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

With their announcement on Saturday evening of a new political party called the “New Right,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked unleashed a storm of criticism from those who say a new party will weaken the right’s chances in the coming elections, Ynet reports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud colleagues say that the New Right will splinter the right-wing vote, possibly leading to the loss of votes entirely if one or more of the smaller right-wing parties doesn’t pass the electoral threshold, now set at 3.25 percent of the voting public.

If a party doesn’t achieve at least this minimum, the votes are lost and the party doesn’t gain any seats in the Knesset.

Minister of Culture and Sports Miri Regev of the Likud was one of the first out of the gates to attack the two former Jewish Home Party members.

On Saturday, shortly after they announced their new party at a press conference, Regev said: “In recent years, Bennett and Shaked fired from inside the armored personnel carrier and now they turned on the religious Zionists. I call on religious Zionist people: Come to the true right-wing party. … Beware of imitations.”

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The Likud’s Yisrael Katz, who holds the portfolios for transportation and intelligence, said “The Jewish Home’s split and the establishment of the New Right party will not add votes to the national camp, but it may divide and weaken it and bring the left to power,” Ynet reports.

Minister of Tourism and Likud Party member Yariv Levin called Bennett and Shaked’s move “opportunistic and subversive” and one which will hurt the right. He said “their wild attack” on Netanyahu during their press conference “can serve only the left.”

The Likud released a statement saying, “There are those who did not learn the lesson of the 1992 elections, when the right smashed itself into splinter parties and led to the rise of a left-wing government and the Oslo disaster,” referring to the Oslo Accords negotiated between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and PLO Chief Yasser Arafat.

At least one opposition leader agrees with the Likud’s assessment that the New Right party will weaken the right’s chances. Yesh Atid (or “There is a Future”) Party head Yair Lapid called it a “historic opportunity to change the leadership,” Ynet reports.

New Right Party

Bennett and Shaked decided to split from the strongly religious-Zionist Jewish Home Party, which Bennett headed because they said that they could no longer influence Netanyahu, who felt the religious-Zionist public was “in his pocket,” in Bennett’s words.

Despite the Likud’s worries, some analysts say that that Bennett and Shaked’s new party will end up taking secular right-wing votes away from another new party created by former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz.

Nevertheless, the Likud is making a last-minute push to reduce the electoral threshold, Israel’s Channel 2 reported. The move is aimed at ensuring that the smaller right-wing parties make it into the Knesset.