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Far-right Israeli parties unite ahead of elections

Middle East | 2020-01-14 17:19:25
Far-right Israeli parties unite ahead of elections
Two far-right Israeli political parties joined forces Tuesday to challenge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a day after a left-leaning alliance was announced.

Israel is gearing up for its third election in less than a year after neither Netanyahu nor his centrist rival Benny Gantz were able to form a coalition following two polls last year.

Whoever is tasked with forming a government will need to win the support of small parties, which can wield major clout in coalition negotiations.

Under Israel's system of proportional representation, parties may form joint electoral lists to boost their chances of being selected as coalition partners.

Defence Minister Naftali Bennett had ruled out such an alliance on Monday, but just hours later his New Right struck a deal with the National Union faction of Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich.

New Right member Ayelet Shaked, a former justice minister, said the "union of all the currents of religious Zionism and of the secular right guarantees the formation of a government of the strong right."

The three politicians also called on Education Minister Rafi Peretz, leader of the Jewish Home party, to join their list.

But Jewish Home's tie-up with the extreme-right Jewish Power party, which many view as racist, has for the moment prevented a deal between all parties to the right of Netanyahu's Likud.

In September polls, Jewish Power failed to reach the 3.25 percent national vote threshold to enter the legislature. The other three far-right parties presented a joint list and won seven seats.

On Monday, the left-wing Labor-Gesher and Meretz parties announced they were joining forces for the next election.

Political parties have until Wednesday night to present their lists to Israel's electoral commission.

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