Israel geared up for its third election 02 March 2020 in less than a year after neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nor his centrist challenger Benny Gantz were able to form a majority government following two polls in 2019. Whoever is tasked with forming a government will need to win the support of small parties, which can wield major clout in coalition negotiations. Under Israel’s system of proportional representation, parties may form joint electoral lists to boost their chances of being selected as coalition partners.
On 14 January 2020, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s New Right party struck a deal with the National Union faction of Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich. On 15 January 2020, just before the deadline for filing electoral lists, they were joined by the national religious Jewish Home party, led by Education Minister Rafi Peretz. The trio ran under the name Yamina (“Rightward” in Hebrew).
Hayemin Hehadash / New Right
Two Israeli ministers split from the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party and set up a new right-wing faction that they say will be a partnership between secular and religious politicians. Naftali Bennett, the minister of education, and Ayelet Shaked, the justice minister, announced their new party, Hayemin Hehadash or New Right, in a news conference in Tel Aviv on 30 December 2018 and vowed to take votes away from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party. According to The Jerusalem Post, the New Right will alternate between religious and secular candidates on its list.
"We did not succeed in Bayit Yehudi in raising the banner of real partnership between religious and secular," Shaked said, using the Hebrew name for Jewish Home. "We'll regain Knesset seats that have slipped from the Likud to the left - to parties that claim to be right-wing but are in fact left," she said. "The party will strengthen the right."
The ministers said that while Jewish Home had become a "significant force" in government over the past six years, their power had waned. "We greatly appreciate Netanyahu and his contributions over the years to Israel but the real right, the whole nationalist camp, cannot be captives of one person," Bennett said. "With Hayemin Hehadash, Israel is winning again."
The party will firmly oppose the creation of a Palestinian state, he continued. "I want to be very very clear," he said. "The New Right party is right-wing, no buts and no sort-ofs. In favor of the Land of Israel without compromise, against a Palestinian state, period." He also added that the New Right party would not have allowed the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip 13 years ago.
The New Right, led by Defense Minister Naftali Bennett and former Justice Minister and Yamina MK Ayelet Shaked, failed to pass the electoral threshold in the April 2019 elections. Ahead of the September vote, it formed an alliance between Bayit Yehudi, led by Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz – a party Bennett and Shaked had departed – and with Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s National Union. Together, the formations won seven seats but split into two camps right after the election. Ahead of the third round, a new ugly controversy arose when Peretz decided to form an electoral merger with far-right Otzma Yehudit, while Smotrich forged a deal with Bennett. Pressured by other prominent members of the party, Peretz eventually decided to give up Otzma to enter the Yamina alliance.
Minister of Defense Naftali Bennett called 29 January 2020 for Israel to establish sovereignty over nearly a third of the occupied West Bank, hours after United States President Donald Trump announced a Middle East peace plan that Palestinians said amounted to apartheid. "Last night history knocked on the door of our home and gave us a one-time opportunity to apply Israeli law on all settlements in Samaria, Judea, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea," Bennett said, using the Hebrew names for areas in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. "The Israeli government," he said, "will not recognise a Palestinian state."
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