Four parties conspire against Netanyahu with vote deals

Three new parties ready to run.

New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa'ar and Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
New Hope Party leader Gideon Sa'ar and Yamina Party leader Naftali Bennett.
In a sign of possible future cooperation in the next government, four parties whose leaders oppose Benjamin Netanyahu remaining prime minister took steps together that could help bring him down.
Yamina head Naftali Bennett and New Hope chairman Gideon Sa’ar signed a surplus-vote sharing agreement between their two parties on Monday. Hours later, Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman signed a similar deal.
By signing with each other, the four parties have made it harder for Likud, which may lose seats, because no party running will want to aid Netanyahu.
Surplus-vote sharing agreements enable votes for one party beyond what is needed for a mandate to move to another and not be wasted. The method in calculating who gets the surplus votes is called the Bader-Ofer Law, after Gahal MK Yohanan Bader and Alignment MK Avraham Ofer – from the forerunners of Likud and Labor, respectively – who proposed it in 1973. The deadline for parties to sign vote-sharing agreements is March 12.
There has been speculation that New Hope and Yamina will end up running together on one list.
Yamina has been having trouble reaching an agreement with the National Union Party of MK Bezalel Smotrich, which ran together with Yamina in the last election. Smotrich has been making demands for four slots among the list’s top eight candidates and a promise to only join a right-wing government. He has also rejected Bennett’s idea of setting aside ideology on diplomatic issues while dealing with the coronavirus and its aftermath
Due to the difficulties with Smotrich, sources in Yamina on Monday said they are negotiating with the Bayit Yehudi Party of Jerusalem Affairs Minister Rafi Peretz, who also ran together with Yamina last time but left the faction to enter Netanyahu’s cabinet. Bayit Yehudi will be holding a leadership primary in two weeks. It is unclear whether Peretz will be running in it.
Over the last two days, three new parties were announced that will run in the election: A veterans’ party led by former Labor MK Danny Yatom, the “Unity Party” led by former Labor MK Michael Bar-Zohar and the “Democratic Party,” which was registered by a group of anti-Netanyahu protesters led by Weizmann Institute of Science scientist Udi Shapira.
The Knesset House Committee decided on Monday that the Knesset’s recess for the election would begin on Wednesday. The committee appointed Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern as head of the Knesset State Control Committee in place of Ofer Shelah, who quit the Knesset last week, and Blue and White MK Yael Ron Ben-Moshe as head of the Knesset Science and Technology Committee in place of Einav Kabla, who quit the Knesset on Sunday.
Sarah Ben-Nun contributed to this report.