Israel Elections: Yamina to launch official campaign this week

Agreements with Hendel, Hauser and Kahana will likely be reached by the launch of the campaign, a source in Yamina said.

Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked is seen at the inauguration of the 24th Knesset, on April 6, 2021. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked is seen at the inauguration of the 24th Knesset, on April 6, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Yamina is expected to launch its campaign this week, by which time it will likely have finalized agreements with Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, MK Zvi Hauser and Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Matan Kahana, a source in Yamina said.

Kahana is currently a member of the Yamina list but has held talks with other parties. Hendel and Hauser are members of an independent political faction called Derech Eretz. In the previous election, the two were part of Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s New Hope list, but were left out of New Hope’s merger with Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party.

The questions remaining are more about placement in the Yamina list then about content, the source said. The current Yamina MKs are party leader and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked – who will be number one on the list – Kahana, Abir Kara, Shirley Pinto and Yomtob Kalfon. The questions remaining then are whether Hendel will be number two or three, and whether Hauser will be six or seven.

What are the issues at play?

The placements are significant for a number of reasons. First, provided Yamina passes the 3.25% electoral threshold and receives at least four seats, it will likely receive two ministerial positions in the election, according to the source. This means that numbers one and two on the list will become ministers, while number three might become a deputy minister at best. Both Kahana and Hendel are ministers, and neither will want to be number three.

Providing the party indeed receives two ministerial positions, if both ministers resign from the Knesset as part of the Norwegian law, numbers five and six will enter the Knesset but number seven might be left out. If a third Yamina member resigns in order to serve as a deputy minister, then number seven on the list will enter the Knesset. This is not certain though, and the question is whether to take that risk on either Hauser or Kalfon, according to the source.

MK Zvi Hauser and Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel attend a New Hope faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 6, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)MK Zvi Hauser and Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel attend a New Hope faction meeting, at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem, on June 6, 2022. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Another issue on the table is what Shaked’s position will be, and whether she will enter a government led by opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Kahana has said explicitly that he will not sit under Netanyahu, and placing Kahana as number two might serve as a guarantee for anti-Bibi voters that the party strongly prefers a non-Bibi government. This might bring aboard former New Hope voters, who oppose Netanyahu but also did not support New Hope chair Gideon Sa’ar’s merger with Blue and White.

The sides hope to resolve these issues by the campaign launch later this week, but even if some questions are left open, Yamina hopes that the launch will create the necessary momentum to get the job done. Neither Shaked nor Hendel and Hauser are interested in prolonging the negotiations, since the longer Yamina takes to present its new list, the longer other right-wing parties have to try to pull away its voters, the source added.

Shaked conducted in-depth polls in recent weeks in order to lay out Yamina’s campaign strategy. One of the key findings was that many people who voted for Yamina and New Hope in the last election were undecided about their current vote and thus were not being counted in recent polls, which have shown Yamina earning approximately just 2% of the general vote. The party is currently in disarray since it does not yet have a spokesperson or CEO. However, once these positions are filled and the party launches its campaign and presents its agreements with Kahana, Hendel and Hauser, many of these undecided voters will go back to saying they will vote for Yamina. This will push the party back over the electoral threshold, the source said.