A mythical ministry for much-needed momentum - analysis

He promised Feiglin a ministry, just like he promised the Pensioners Party back in 2009.

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August 30, 2019 07:25
2 minute read.
A mythical ministry for much-needed momentum - analysis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin at a joint press conference, August 29, 2019. (photo credit: KOBI RICHTER/TPS)

Contrary to the way the agreement between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin is being presented, it was not Netanyahu who sought out Feiglin in an effort to get him to quit the election.

It was a Zehut contributor from New York who approached Feiglin’s veteran fund-raiser Shmuel Sackett and expressed concern that if Zehut failed to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, the party and its ideals would cease to exist on September 18.

Sackett turned to the head of the Likud court, former MK Michael Kleiner, who got Netanyahu involved. The timing worked out well for the Likud leader.

At a time when Blue and White is fighting internally, the Likud looks like it is removing an obstacle to unity in its own political bloc. It is that image of momentum that Netanyahu paid for in the deal on Thursday.

With all due respect, it was not Zehut’s voters, even though the race is close. The party won 118,031 votes in the April election, and more than half those voters have already scattered to other parties. A Smith Research poll taken for Friday’s Maariv predicted Zehut would win 1.6% of the vote, less than 50% of the electoral threshold.

For that momentum, Netanyahu did not have to give up very much. He promised Feiglin a ministry, just like he promised the Pensioners Party back in 2009.

Feiglin insisted that the promise be made in writing and announced publicly, in an effort to embarrass Netanyahu into keeping the deal. But Netanyahu has broken many promises in the past and emerged unscathed.

There were also promises about economic reforms and legalizing medical cannabis, which Netanyahu may not keep. Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit did not permit any of the promises to be implemented ahead of the election.

The one tangible Feiglin could have received was money, and he chose to turn it down. Had he agreed to disband Zehut and merge with Likud, Feiglin could have gotten his party’s debt of more than NIS 4m. paid by the Likud.

Instead, he preferred to keep Zehut alive and independent of the prime minister’s party. Whether Zehut members are mad at Feiglin for breaking his promise to run all the way will be indicated in Sunday’s internal party referendum on approving the deal.

Regardless whether it passes, Netanyahu has already received what he wanted in the deal.


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