Just 10 days before all political parties must announce their slates for the upcoming Sept. 17 national election, New Right Party leader Naftali Bennett met with his former deputy Ayelet Shaked in a last-ditch effort to bring her back to the party they formed together after breaking away from the Jewish Home Party they previously led.
The pair had announced the creation of a pan-right-wing party prior to the April elections, which was intended to be a political home for religious as well as secular right-wing voters. However, the party failed to meet the minimum vote threshold, leaving the pair out of the government and leading to accusations they had wasted votes which would have enabled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition.
Following their unexpected defeat, former Justice Minister Shaked abandoned New Right and attempted to gain entrance to the leading Likud Party, but was rejected by Netanyahu.
Reports indicate that Bennett has since made concerted effort to win back Shaked, even offering her leadership of the New Right if she returns. Polls show that a united right-wing bloc (including both New Right and Jewish Home) led by Shaked would garner more votes than if such a union were to be led by current Jewish Home chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz.
Shaked is said to be more interested in leading the Union of Right-Wing Parties (UWRP), a confederation of national religious parties, while Bennett is pressing for a stronger secular element.
“I prefer if we create a liberal right-wing bloc with one leader, and have another leader at the head of another religious hardal [ultra-Orthodox-nationalist] party which is the Union of Right-Wing Parties,” Bennett told Channel 12 news in an interview broadcast Saturday.
Shaked has apparently met with Peretz, but allegedly stopped short of openly asserting interest in his slot, according to a URWP source quoted by Ynet.