Report: Netanyahu mulls Jewish Home unification ahead of election


An Israeli media report claims that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is holding secret talks with Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett over the possibility of a joint electoral ticket, with polls indicating that Netanyahu’s Likud Party trails the Zionist Camp ticket.

Although Netanyahu and Bennett would appear to be competing for similar voting constituencies, there is an apparent unwritten agreement not to attack each other and instead focus campaigning efforts on opposing the Zionist Camp led by Labour head Issac Herzog and Hatnuah leader Tzipi Livni.

Likud formed a joint electoral list prior to the January 2013 election with Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu and although it ultimately delivered power, the slate won fewer seats than expected and the agreement was criticised by some Likud activists. Nonetheless, with Likud narrowly trailing Zionist Camp in the polls, Ynet reports that Netanyahu has ordered internal polling to examine the impact of a potential joint Likud-Jewish Home list.

The report quotes unnamed Likud officials who say that backchannel talks between Netanyahu and Bennett are already underway. A top party official is quoted saying, “Netanyahu is willing to sell the Likud to secure his continued control over government.” However, just a week remains before the deadline to submit electoral lists and so such a deal would need to finalized quickly.  There is also thought to be significant internal opposition to a unified list within Likud.

The Zionist Camp yesterday released a campaign video featuring prominent candidates proudly touting their Zionist credentials. However, the Likud campaign swiftly produced a parody, branding the Labour-Hantuah list the “Anti-Zionist Camp.” Netanyahu said, that the choice is “an anti-Zionist list … or the Likud list led by me. That is the real choice.”

In other election news, it was confirmed yesterday that the three parties which traditionally represent the Arab sector will run under a joint electoral ticket, headed by Hadash head Ayman Odeh. Meanwhile, ultra-Orthodox party United Torah Judaism also announced their list of Knesset candidates.