Netanyahu delays Moscow trip to meet with Jewish Home leaders
PM pushes off planned meeting with Vladimir Putin, schedules sit-down with Jewish Home chief Rafi Peretz in final push for right-wing unity.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu scheduled a meeting with Jewish Home leaders for 12:00 p.m. Wednesday, in a final bid to secure a united ticket for a number of smaller right-wing parties.
Netanyahu had been scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin Thursday, but has pushed off the meeting for several days, amid political developments in Israel’s upcoming election.
The Prime Minister called the meeting with Jewish Home chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz and MK Moti Yogev, to press the party to finalize a deal with the Otzma Yehudit party.
Last week, the Jewish Home inked a deal with the National Union faction for a joint ticket.
Since then, the Jewish Home-National Union alliance has negotiated with Otzma, a small right-wing party led by followers of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, for a technical bloc, allowing Otzma to enter the Knesset on the joint ticket, but without obligations to remain united with the other factions.
While the talks had been deadlocked for several days, on Wednesday morning, Otzma Yehudit announced that it had accepted the Jewish Home’s offer of the 5th and 8th slots on the candidate list, essentially giving the party one “safe” seat and a second realistic seat. Polls have shown an alliance of Otzma, Jewish Home, and National Union winning anywhere from seven to nine seats.
Jewish Home leaders are set to convene Wednesday night to discuss the possible run with Otzma, ahead of the deadline Thursday for all party lists.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly pressed the two sides to come to an agreement for a joint run, concerned that separate bids could lead to a massive loss of votes to the right-wing bloc, with Otzma and possibly even the Jewish Home-National Union lists failing to clear the electoral threshold.
A fourth faction, Yahad, led by former Shas chief Eli Yishai, remains in consideration for the united right-wing ticket, though it remains unclear whether the two sides are close to reaching an agreement.