Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed his Likud party's first-ever Arab candidate on Thursday night, former school principal Nael Zoabi.
Netanyahu called on Arab citizens to cast their ballots for Likud, instead of the Joint List that broke up on Thursday into two parts.
"Arab citizens are sick of wasting their votes on parties in the opposition," Netanyahu said. "Only the Likud can guarantee to improve their lives, and that is exactly what we will do."
Zoabi thanked Netanyahu for the opportunity to run and for what he has done for the Arab sector.
"Israeli Arabs want to be part of the Israeli success, and tat is why they're coming to the ruling party, the Likud," he said. "I promise to serve both Arab and Jewish citizens with all my might." Zoabi will be 39th on the Likud list, which is not considered realistic. Netanyahu had realistic slots at his disposal and chose to give them to other candidates.
A representative of Smotrich's party, MK Ofir Sofer, was placed 28th on the Likud list by Netanyahu to thank Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich for running together with the far right Otzma Yehudit Party.
Netanyahu had hoped that the Bayit Yehudi Party would also join the merger. But the party decided to sit out the election and endorse Yamina. Bayit Yehudi leader Hagit Moshe will be a candidate for minister in Yamina. She turned down the second slot on Smotrich's list.Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu announced that Novelist and right-wing radio personality Galit Distal Atbaryan will be in the 10th spot on the Likud list. Moshe later endorsed Netanyahu for prime minister, even though Bennett considers himself a candidate.
Netanyahu called Distal Atbaryan “an independent woman, a woman who doesn’t hesitate to say her opinion, a woman who comes from the people…and above all, believes in the national idea.”
The prime minister said the new candidate will help the Likud reach its goal of establishing a right-wing government.
Distal said that her appointment to the Likud list “gives hope to many people, because I am not like the people, I am the people…I know what it is to manage a store.
“The fact that someone like me reached a place like this in Likud shows that [the party] is the best platform for social mobility,” she added.
Distal Atbaryan was born in Jerusalem to parents who came from Iran, and speaks Farsi. She published two novels, one of which, A Peacock in the Stairwell, was shortlisted for the Sapir Prize in 2014.
She has written columns for various media outlets and participated in television panels and radio shows in recent years, most recently writing for Israel Hayom and hosting a daily program on Galei Israel Radio.
Netanyahu is expected to appoint Communal Strengthening and Development Minister Orly Levy-Abecassis to the 28th spot on the Likud list.
Levy, the daughter of former Likud minister David Levy, entered the Knesset in Yisrael Beytenu in 2009. She left the faction when it joined a Netanyahu-led coalition in 2016. She established her own party, Gesher, in the first of three elections in 2019-2020, but did not pass the electoral threshold, and then she ran with Labor and Labor-Gesher-Meretz. When the Labor-led bloc expressed willingness to be form a coalition with the Joint List last year, she left to join Likud, in exchange for Netanyahu appointing her as a minister.