Former Netanyahu allies formed a new right-wing party, which enjoyed a jump in early polls.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff
Two senior Israeli Cabinet ministers announced Saturday that they are forming a new party to run in April elections, hoping to present an alternative to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said they were leaving the Jewish Home party and would instead lead a new list of candidates called the “New Right” party.
The Jewish Home is a nationalist party that is especially popular with religious voters and residents of Judea and Samaria. Bennett and Shaked hope that their new movement will have a broader appeal to both religious and secular voters.
Bennett has been the leader of the Jewish Home since 2012, and Shaked is one of the country’s most popular politicians.
Just a day after Bennett announced the new party, a poll by the Walla news site shows the New Right winning ten seats in the Knesset, while his former Jewish Home party would only garner a mere four seats.
Similar to the results of other recent polls, the Walla survey revealed Netanyahu and his Likud party’s continuing popularity, taking 28 seats. Meanwhile, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party appeared poised to take 15 seats.
The Walla poll also showed former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s newly formed party coming in fourth with 11 seats, notwithstanding the buzz that surrounded his entry onto the national political stage.
While Jewish Home served as a junior partner to the Likud Party in the past two Israeli coalition governments, Bennett and Shaked, who are both former aides to Netanyahu, have often been at odds with their former boss.
Bennett, for instance, has called for a much tougher response to the Palestinians’ violent border riots, arson terror and rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.
At his news conference, Bennett said that Netanyahu takes his religious partners for granted and believes he has them in his “pocket.”
As noted, Likud remains far ahead of all challengers in early polls and appears poised to lead the next government. If Bennett can siphon away Likud votes, he could be an influential member of the next coalition and be in a stronger position to shape government policies.
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