Election surprises Zehut, set to miss out on Knesset

As Israelis headed to the polls on Tuesday, Feiglin repeatedly said that all other parties were “fearful” of Zehut’s emergence during the campaign.

April 9, 2019 22:57
2 minute read.
Election surprises Zehut, set to miss out on Knesset

Leader of Zehut Moshe Feiglin. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI)


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Touted by many as the likely surprise of this year’s elections and a possible coalition kingmaker, Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut is set to miss out on reaching the Knesset altogether after not reaching the necessary electoral threshold, according to exit polls.

“Nobody knows this evening whether Zehut is in or out, and it’s possible that even tomorrow we won’t know,” said Feiglin in a message to party supporters following the polls, highlighting that soldiers’ votes are worth approximately eight Knesset seats. “I request that, despite all the confusion, keep the faith and don’t give up on the counting of each and every ballot slip until the very end.”

As Israelis headed to the polls on Tuesday, Feiglin repeatedly said that all other parties were “fearful” of Zehut’s emergence during the campaign.

“The citizens of Israel are receiving their country back,” said Feiglin, after casting his vote in his West Bank hometown of Karnei Shomron. “Whoever wants his liberty should run with another five or 10 people to the polls and vote Zehut so that the State of Israel will belong to them and not the old establishment.”

Advancing an ultra-nationalist and libertarian platform, former Likud MK Feiglin successfully turned the issue of legalizing recreational cannabis use into one of the most prominent topics in the elections.

Once all the votes are counted, the share of young voters among Zehut’s total vote count is likely to be far higher than any other mainstream party. It seems, however, that their support will prove insufficient.

While his pro-legalization stance made considerable noise, his 300-page anti-establishment manifesto also advocated for reduced state intervention, the reduction of government ministries, a one-state solution, privatization of much of the welfare system and the removal of the rabbinate’s monopoly on Jewish marriage.

Unlike most parties, Feiglin consistently refused to state his preference between prime ministerial hopefuls Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz. While Zehut was expected to play a critical role as both major parties started doing the possible coalition mathematics and scenarios, Feiglin’s name is now unlikely to appear in the leaders’ phone books.

Feiglin’s demands were unlikely to be modest if the party passed the threshold, with his eyes firmly set on the Finance Ministry.

While Zehut’s failure to pass the threshold will shuffle the cards for all potential coalition-makers, the politician breathing a large sigh of relief will likely be current Finance Minister and Kulanu leader Moshe Kahlon, who aims to continue in his role for a further term.

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