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Netanyahu orchestrates merger between far-right Israeli parties

In an effort to guarantee a 61-seat majority at the Nov. 1 elections, opposition head Benjamin Netanyahu mediated and pushed far-right Religious Zionism and ultranationalist Itamar Ben-Gvir to run on one ticket.
Israeli Likud party leader and former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Just before the start of the Sabbath, in the early evening of Friday, Aug. 26, an agreement was signed merging the tickets of two radical right-wing parties ahead of Israel’s Nov. 1 elections.

The deal between the Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party led by Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir and Religious Zionism party head Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich was mediated by opposition leader and former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It was signed using WhatsApp and no photo of the event was made available, for good reason. Although the deal provides Netanyahu with an electoral safety net by ensuring both parties are elected to the Knesset, bolstering his prospects of a Knesset majority, it hands his opponents an advantage by tainting him as a sponsor of the radical, racist right.

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