Otzma Yehudit’s name removed from coalition agreement with the Likud

During the coalition negotiations, an initial draft of an agreement between Likud and URP listed all three parties as part of the joint list, Kan News reported Wednesday.

By
July 17, 2019 18:29
2 minute read.
Itamar Ben-Gvir

Itamar Ben-Gvir from the Otzma Yehudit party, attends a hearing at Israel's Supreme Court in Jerusalem March 13, 2019. (photo credit: AMMAR AWAD / REUTERS)

During coalition negotiations between the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) and the Likud following the April election, the name of one of the URP’s constituent parties, far-right Otzma Yehudit, was removed from the draft document, leaving just Bayit Yehudi and National Union as potential signatories.
 
Senior URP figure Itamar Ben-Gvir said on Wednesday that this represented “a smoking gun” proving the two bigger religious-Zionist parties “used and discarded” Otzma, and never had any intention of honoring their commitments under the deal to form a joint list of all three parties.
 
Sources in the URP said, however, that Otzma never had any intention of joining the coalition – given their fierce opposition from the Right to government policies regarding Gaza and the settlements – and that there was therefore nothing sinister in Otzma’s name not appearing on the coalition agreement document.
 
During the coalition negotiations, an initial draft of an agreement between Likud and URP listed all three parties as part of the joint list, KAN reported on Wednesday.
 
Officials in the joint party, likely from either Bayit Yehudi or National Union, requested that Otzma’s name be removed, to which Likud agreed.
 
“This is the smoking gun that proves that they [Bayit Yehudi and National Union] used and discarded our rights,” said Ben-Gvir, and accused Bayit Yehudi specifically of being responsible for removing Otzma from the coalition agreement. 
 
He argued that URP would not have passed the electoral threshold without Otzma, and repeated his claim that Bayit Yehudi and National Union failed to live up to their unity agreement commitments, which required that an MK appointed as a minister resign as an MK to allow the Otzma representative into the Knesset.
 
A source in the URP said, however, that Otzma only joined Bayit Yehudi and National Union as part of a “technical bloc,” with the implication that it would separate immediately after the election, given Otzma’s hostility to current government policy.
 
The source said that there was never any intention of Otzma joining the coalition, and therefore there was no reason to include the party’s name on the agreement.
 
Ben-Gvir denied that Otzma never had any intention of joining the government, saying that under certain circumstances – such as the evacuation of the Bedouin village in the West Bank, the cessation of the transfer of payments to Hamas in Gaza, and a stronger reaction to Hamas rocket attacks – Otzma could join a coalition.
 
The URP would indeed have struggled to pass the electoral threshold without Otzma, since the united list received 159,000 votes, while the threshold to enter the Knesset is 3.25%, or approximately 140,000 votes.
 
Otzma claims some 70,000 of URP’s votes came from its supporters, and while this is hard to verify, it seems highly likely that its contribution to the URP was worth more than 20,000.



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