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July 28, 2019 11:39 pm

Israeli Right Takes Step Toward Unity With Agreement That Former Justice Minister Shaked Will Lead United List

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during a swearing-in ceremony for newly appointed High Court justices in Jerusalem, June 13, 2017. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

Israel’s right-wing and national-religious parties took a major step toward unifying on Sunday, with the announcement of an agreement that former justice minister Ayelet Shaked will serve as leader of a unified list.

Shaked, recently made leader of the New Right party, reached an agreement with Rafi Peretz, head of the Jewish Home party, that she will serve as chair of a united right-wing list, Israeli news site Mako reported.

“We are pleased to announce that I spoke to Ayelet Shaked a few minutes ago, and we agreed that out of national responsibility and concern for a right-wing government and religious Zionism, Ayelet will head the United Right party,” Peretz tweeted.

“Unity is a common goal of all of us, tonight we will settle the details of the joint run and we will set out,” he added.

The parties to the right of the ruling Likud party have been under considerable pressure to unite from both outside and in, particularly from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who fears losing right-wing votes if one of the far-right parties fails to cross the Knesset threshold.

Earlier in the day, former education minister Naftali Bennett — number two on the New Right list — urged a merger of all the right-wing parties, including the quasi-libertarian Zehut and the Kahanist Otzma Yehudit, saying, he wants to “bring them under one big umbrella of a right-wing bloc.”

“That’s the line I’m following,” he said, adding that Shaked had “asked me to lead the negotiations with everyone.”

In the most recent Israeli elections in April, Shaked and Bennett’s New Right party failed to cross the electoral threshold. New elections will be held in September due to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s inability to form a governing coalition in the aftermath of the previous election.

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