A new report says that a merger between the National Union and Otzma Yehudit factions is being held up by Orit Struk, a former lawmaker and neighbor of Otzma Yehudit leader Baruch Marzel.
Last week, National Union leader Betzalel Smotrich help talks with the far-right Otzma Yehudit party to explore a potential merger ahead of the upcoming April elections.
Key to the potential union is a fear that tens of thousands of right-wing votes will go to waste. In both the 2015 and 2013 Knesset elections, various iterations of what is now Otzma Yehudit barely missed the electoral threshold, throwing away three Knesset seats that would have otherwise gone to other right-wing parties.
In the meantime, negotiations between the two parties have stalled, leading Otzma Yehudit to run ads in central Religious Zionist newspapers calling for the union to move forward. Now, a new report by the website Srugim alleges that the merger is being held up by Orit Struk, a Hevron resident and number three on the National Union's Knesset list.
"We were surprised by the behavior of Orit Struck," Otzma Yehudit officials told Srugim. "Attorney [Itamar] Ben-Gvir was enlisted to assist Struk whenever he was asked, as did party head Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, who was active in handling many of her requests. "
"Unfortunately, egotistical motives are causing Otzma Yehudit from merging with the National Union," added the official. "The situation of 1992 - that the right-wing parties did not pass the threshold and the Oslo agreement was signed due to the irresponsibility of right-wing politicians - is liable to happen again."
Struk denied the report, saying that "there is no point in responding to nonsense".
Otzma Yehudit, led by former Kach movement activists Michael Ben-Ari, Baruch Marzel, and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, has been linked with the ideology of Jewish Defense League founder and former Knesset Member Rabbi Meir Kahane. Rabbi Kahane advocated the expulsion of Arab residents of Israel, and was barred from the Knesset in 1988, after serving one term.