Political parties made last-minute tweaks to their lists Thursday – with a few surprises – before the window to submit them to the Central Elections Committee in the Knesset closed in the evening, bringing the total number of parties running in the March 17 vote to 26.
In a surprise move, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chose to appoint former minister and MK Bennie Begin, son of Likud founder and former prime minister Menachem Begin, to the 11th place on the party list. There was an outpouring of praise and support for the move within the Likud. Netanyahu also named terrorism expert Dr. Anat Berko to the 23rd slot.
Likud MKs Ze’ev Elkin, Yariv Levin and Ophir Akunis submitted the party’s list, with Elkin telling Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Salim Joubran: “We have 120 interesting people on our list; I hope they all get in.”
Before the party handed in its list, Levin refused to give the Joint Arab List the requested permission to use the letter “mem” on its voting slip.
The Joint Arab List needed the Likud to acquiesce, because the name on the Likud’s voting slip, Machal, starts with “mem,” and Meretz and the Zionist Union (“Emet”) already agreed. However, Levin said that “unlike Meretz and the Anti-Zionist Union, Likud will not cooperate with a party that includes [Balad MKs] Haneen Zoabi and Jamal Zahalka and the Islamic Movement, and will express total opposition to the Central Elections Committee.”