Likud, Eitam's party sign agreement to run together

The Likud will run together in February 10's election with MK Effi Eitam's Ahi after the two parties signed a merger deal just ahead of the deadline to submit the Likud's list to the Knesset midnight Sunday night. According to the deal, candidates from Ahi will receive slots 39 and 45 on the Likud list. In return, the Likud will receive Ahi's NIS 12 million in state funding for the campaign, which will give the party a much-needed boost in its election budget to NIS 40 million. Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had come close to reaching a deal over the weekend with the Tzomet Party, but his spokesman said that Tzomet's leaders had taken too much time and that a deal was completed first with Ahi. The Ahi candidates will be former Beit Shemesh mayoral candidate Shalom Lerner, who was raised in New York, at slot No. 39, and Edmond Hassin at 45. Eitam himself will sit out the current race and compete for a realistic slot with the Likud in the next election. The Labor Party is expected to ask the Central Elections Committee to declare the deal with Ahi illegal. The Likud also signed a surplus-vote-sharing agreement with Israel Beiteinu on Sunday night. Labor is expected to sign such a deal with Meretz. The Likud was one of several parties to submit their lists at the last minute on Sunday night. With an hour left before the deadline, 28 parties had submitted lists but several more were still expected. Kadima MK Menahem Ben-Sasson asked to be removed from his party's list because he was elected to an unrealistic slot in the primary. Former foreign minister David Levy will be in the ceremonial 120 slot on the Likud list. Labor placed former president Yitzhak Navon in the same slot among its candidates while Meretz gave honorary slots at the end of its list to former party leader Shulamit Aloni and author Amos Oz.