Israel Elections: Parties on Left, Right, to work to unite till deadline

Decisions will be made at Thursday night's deadline

Merav Ben-Ari with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, February 1, 2021 (photo credit: RAANAN COHEN)
Merav Ben-Ari with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid, February 1, 2021
(photo credit: RAANAN COHEN)
Efforts to unite parties on the Left and Right will not conclude until just before the 11:59 p.m. Thursday deadline for lists to be submitted to the Central Elections Committee, sources in both ends of the political map said Tuesday night.
The committee will start greeting parties registering to run in the March 23 election on Wednesday afternoon and will assign them letters for their ballots on a first come, first served basis. The desire to receive attractive ballot letters that could have gone to former political allies will bring Yesh Atid and Yamina to register their parties and reveal their lists first.
The Yamina list is being kept a secret by party leader Naftali Bennett, who intended to make his final decisions on Wednesday morning on the order behind him, MK Ayelet Shaked and Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi.
Almost all of the rest of the parties running will only submit their lists on Thursday.
On the Right, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued intervening in an effort to ensure that the Religious Zionist Party, Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit would run together and not waste votes in their political camp. Bayit Yehudi’s central committee meeting that was called to approve mergers was postponed from Tuesday night because no agreements had been finalized.
Religious Zionist Party head Bezalel Smotrich is set to head the list, followed by Bayit Yehudi leader Hagit Moshe, Movement for Governability and Democracy legal adviser Simcha Rothman and Otzma Yehudit chairman Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Netanyahu has decisions to make about reserved slots in the Likud. Sources in the party confirmed a report that only an unrealistic slot would be reserved for Communal Strengthening and Development Minister Orly Levy-Abecassis.
The New Hope Party of prime ministerial candidate Gideon Sa’ar will present its list on Thursday. A source close to Sa’ar revealed that a native English speaker would be one of the candidates.
On the Left, Labor leader Merav Michaeli met on Tuesday with former Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah, whose demand to come with two other members of his party was rejected by her. Michaeli spoke by phone with Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, who had not yet decided on Tuesday night whether to drop out of the race after polls continued to show that his Israelis Party had almost no support.
The candidates of Yisrael Beytenu will be MKs Avigdor Liberman, Oded Forer, Evgeny Sova, Eli Avidar, Yulia Malinovsky, Hamed Amer and Alex Kushnir, followed by Prof. Yossi Shain, head of Tel Aviv University’s Political Science Department. Another new face will be women’s-rights activist Batya Kahana-Dror, who is religious but is a critic of both haredi (ultra-Orthodox) and religious-Zionist leaders. She will be 12th on the list.
Two new polls had nearly opposite results on Tuesday.
A Panels Research poll taken for 103 FM found that Netanyahu could build a coalition of 61 MKs from Likud, Shas, United Torah Judaism and Yamina. It was the first survey in months taken by Panels pollster Menachem Lazar that found Netanyahu could form a government.
Second-place Yesh Atid continued its rise in the poll, which predicted a five-seat lead for the party over New Hope, 19-14.
Huldai expressed alarm at the poll results, calling on the parties in the left-wing bloc to join together in one list.“In order to change the government, we must convene today and produce one strong list from Yesh Atid, Labor, [Economy Party head Yaron] Zelekha, Blue and White, Shelah and the Israelis,” he tweeted. “Everyone will give up something, but together we will save Israel. Running in the current format will lead to one result: a Netanyahu-immunity-rabbis government.”
Another poll on Channel 13 found that a coalition could be built without Likud, the haredi parties, the Joint List and Meretz.
The survey, taken by pollster Camil Fuchs, found that Yesh Atid and New Hope would both win 16 seats, well below the 29 seats predicted for Likud. But Yesh Atid and New Hope could build a coalition with Yamina, Yisrael Beytenu, Labor and Blue and White.
Taken a day after Labor’s primary, the poll predicted eight seats for the party. Blue and White would narrowly cross the threshold with four seats.
Huldai’s Israelis Party received less than 1% in the poll.
The poll also asked what would happen if the Religious Zionist Party, Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit united on the Right. It found that the united right-wing party would win six seats and that MK Mansour Abbas’s Ra’am Party would also cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, running separately from the Joint List.
Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.