Eli Yishai
Eli YishaiEdi Israel/Flash 90

Despite repeated calls to run on a joint list so as to ensure both ideological religious nationalist parties can pass the recently raised threshold, Yachad - Ha'am Itanu chair Eli Yishai has apparently refused to run with Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit.

Yishai met this Wednesday with Kiryat Arba and Hevron chief rabbi, Rabbi Dov Lior, who has been a strong supporter of Ben-Ari. The two discussed a technical bloc by which the two parties could run together, and later split while retaining their seats if they so chose.

Otzma Yehudit has been open to the idea, but apparently Yishai is intent on joining a coalition led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and therefore is not keen to join with Ben-Ari's party, which strongly opposes what it terms ideological compromise as seen in the last coalition that released terrorists, froze construction, held negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA), and let Hamas survive another operation.

Arutz Sheva has learned that the meeting between Rabbi Lior and Yishai took place following weeks of meetings by the rabbi, urging Ha'am Itanu to join with Otzma Yehudit so as to prevent both parties from not making it in the Knesset.

Recent polls have indicated that may occur, including the latest one showing Yishai not getting in alone - polls have shown that if the two run together, they could handily enter with four to five seats.

Rabbi Lior had previously asked for a candidate on the shared list to represent him, but he gave up on that request after Ben-Ari reportedly agreed to also be a representative of the rabbi and his rulings. The rabbi has emphasized representation benefiting the religious Zionist Torah institutions and support of the Chief Rabbinate, in addition to fighting for the land of Israel.

But Yishai reportedly refused to work with Otzma Yehudit, with sources in the party claiming Ben-Ari's position is "extremist" and would cause Yishai to be portrayed as extremist as well. Otzma Yehudit has called to deport hostile Arab radicals from Israel, and the general media has repeatedly attempted to portray him in a negative light for his ideological positions.

The sources with Yishai told Arutz Sheva that they don't want to join with Otzma Yehudit, even though Ben-Ari's party has been actively pursuing such a union with them, with Ha'am Itanu's apparent desire to compromise so as to secure a coalition spot likely a major factor.

The issue of "extremism" appears to refer to Yishai's ardent desire to join a coalition with Netanyahu, with it estimated that Ben-Ari would oppose such a move unless clear ideological red lines were set.

Arutz Sheva has learned that Ben-Ari has said that in a meeting with Yishai's counsel Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the rabbi reportedly said the party is particularly eager to enter the coalition so as to secure funds for its affiliated yeshivas.