Otzma refuses to withdraw from election Ben-Gvir says

Far-right leader says he was offered ministerial positions, jobs in the national institutions, and even the role of an Israeli ambassador.

Itamar Ben-Gvir at the unity announcement (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Itamar Ben-Gvir at the unity announcement
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir said Monday night his far-right party would not be withdrawing from the upcoming election despite calls to do so from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and elements of the religious Right.
“Tonight I am honored to inform you in the name of the secretariat of Otzma Yehudit that we are running until the end for our values, for the truth, for the state, for the Jewish people and for all our children,” he said at a press conference in Jerusalem.
In the September election, Otzma received some 84,000 votes, worth approximately two Knesset seats but less than the required 3.25% of the vote required to pass the electoral threshold and enter the Knesset.
Netanyahu lobbied tirelessly ahead of the April and September elections, and just now ahead of the deadline to file electoral lists for the upcoming March election, to have Otzma included on a joint list of the religious, right-wing parties.
After that failed last week, Netanyahu called for Otzma to withdraw from the race so that its voters might vote for the other right-wing parties that are expected to pass the electoral threshold.
Ben-Gvir said various coalition members made dozens of efforts to convince him to stand down, including offers of ministerial portfolios on behalf of one of the ultra-Orthodox political parties, official roles in the KKL-JNF or World Zionist Organization and even an ambassadorship.
“No one offered me to end the protection money to Hamas, to end the arrangement [with Hamas] in Gaza, to ban the Joint List [of Arab parties],” he said. “No one offered to annex all of the Land of Israel and to stop evacuating [unauthorized] settlement outposts.”
“They talk about the right-wing bloc, but no one wants us. They want to use us and then discard us. They want the votes, but we are second class to them,” Ben-Gvir said.