Feiglin's 'Zehut' party heads to the polls

Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party will hold its first-ever primaries Tuesday. Can a libertarian party gain traction in Israel?

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Tzvi Lev,

Moshe Feiglin
Moshe Feiglin
Zehut

Former Likud MK Moshe Feiglin has been building up his 'Zehut' party since his departure from the Knesset in 2015. The man who once headed the 'Jewish Leadership' faction in the Likud has based his new party on libertarian policies, such as ending the draft and legalizing marijuana.

On Tuesday, the party held its first-ever primary vote.

Zehut ("Identity" in Hebrew) will be using a model for choosing its Knesset list never before seen in Israel. Unlike the other parties, who restrict voting in primaries to registered members, Zehut lets any Israeli citizen cast a vote in the final runoff. According to Feiglin, this is done to prevent fraud and the deal making that has become the norm in primary battles.

"This way of doing things eliminates the whole phenomenon of deals and ballot box stuffing" Feiglin told Arutz Sheva. "In the Likud, every member of the Likud has a support group and since he has to mark 11 spots, and can not cast his votes to the man he wants to win, he makes deals with other groups and thus creates the culture of selling votes, which we see in other parties as well.

Feiglin said that Zehut's model attracts votes from other sectors, not just of registered members. "We appeal to the general public and not only to people like us. The voting potential comes from the entire spectrum, even from Yair Lapid."

Not all political parties in the Knesset hold primaries. While the Likud, Labor, and Jewish Home parties do, Shas and UTJ get their candidates chosen by their council of sages, and Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu, Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid, and Avigdor Liberman's Yisrael Beytenu choose their party's list.

"We're not like Deri and Lapid, who unilaterally decide things" Feiglin declared.

Shlomo Gordon, 25, from Jerusalem, is a candidate for the Zehut party’s Knesset list, and thinks that the party will upend Israeli politics. "Today is a great day" he told Arutz Sheva. "Zehut is the main party that actually has ideology and offers anything other than the status quo, with few exceptions besides the socialist authoritarianism of the far left."

Gordon credits the party's capitalist ideology for the high amount of English speakers in the party, saying that "we should all understand that our families who moved to and succeeded in the West, especially in America, prospered thanks to a free market meritocracy."