Netanyahu ‘offer to lower threshold’ doesn’t deter Otzma

Likud: Otzma wasting votes, could bring about a left-wing government; Otzma Yehudit campaign retorts "Whoever wants to strengthen the Right should vote for Otzma Yehudit.”

By
September 3, 2019 17:49
2 minute read.
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir at the the Central Elections Committee

Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir at the the Central Elections Committee. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Otzma Yehudit will not drop out of the election even if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promises to lower the electoral threshold, party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Tuesday.

“Otzma is throwing away right-wing votes, which could result in a left-wing government,” a Likud spokeswoman said.

“The right-wing government in real danger,” Culture Minister Miri Regev said on KAN Bet. “We want to prevent splits in the Right. We don’t want to repeat ’92,” when the Right lost and Labor’s Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister. “It’s good that Zehut removed their candidacy, and I hope Ben-Gvir does as well. In the last election, small parties lost the right six to seven seats.”

Likud’s spokeswoman would not confirm or deny a report in Yediot Aharonot that Netanyahu offered Ben-Gvir to lower the 3.25% electoral threshold in the next election if Otzma drops out of the current one. Ben-Gvir denied that Netanyahu ever tried to make a deal to convince him to quit.

Netanyahu has made no secret in recent years of his support for lowering the threshold, but his coalition partners opposed the change. The threshold was raised in 2013 as part of an electoral reform bill put forward by Yesh Atid, which was part of the coalition at the time.

Otzma’s campaign accused Netanyahu of spin.

“They know that we won’t buy it, so they’re making offers through the newspaper, which didn’t even ask for a reaction,” said a party spokesman. “Whoever thinks we will quit wants a government with Lapid. The only way Netanyahu will establish a right-wing government is with our four seats in the Knesset. We are missing a few thousand seats. Whoever wants to strengthen the Right should vote for Otzma Yehudit.”

The right-wing extremist party is an incarnation of Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach Party. It was banned from the Knesset in the 1980s due to racist incitement, and has not gotten into the Knesset on its own since then. No polls ahead of the September 17 election have shown Otzma passing the threshold – they reached 2.8% and 2.9% in televised polls on Sunday, about 10,000 votes away from getting into the Knesset.

Last week Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin agreed to drop out of the race after Netanyahu offered him a ministry, and to advance some of the party’s policy proposals in the Likud platform.


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