BarkatFlash 90

The decision on unifying the right-wing parties should be signed in the coming hours while in the Likud pressure for unification with these parties continues. Senior Likud member Nir Barkat told Arutz Sheva why he himself is joining in the pressure. We asked why he, other Likud leaders, and the Likud itself consider the demand to be irrelevant.

"The main idea is to see how the right-wing bloc can bring itself to the Knesset in the best possible way and ensure there are no votes that don't meet the threshold. It requires greater systemic vision than the party to which you belong, and requires wise thinking."

Barkat was asked why he does not issue the same call to his own Likud party's leadership so it will join Kahlon's Kulanu, Liberman's Yisrael Beyteinu, Feiglin's Zehut, and Eli Yishai's Yachad so none of these parties will remain outside the next Knesset.

Barkat replies: "We trust the Prime Minister to take the right steps. This rule is valid for everyone, but on the face of it, a survey done in the Likud shows there's no logic in combining Otzmah with the Likud."

We tried to sharpen the question by noting that even if unification with Otzmah seems ideologically far-fetched, union with the other parties - Kahlon, Liberman, Yishai, and Feiglin - sounds much more logical and necessary.

"I need to examine the polls and see where one and one equal three and where they equal one. If such a combination of forces brings nothing, it makes no sense. I trust the Prime Minister's broad vision and I'm convinced he'll be able to make the right connections, whether inside the Likud, and when he calls on parties like the Jewish Home to join Otzmah it makes sense, even if it's a technical connection."

We also asked about this idea if at the end of the unification process between Jewish Home and Otzmah it won't lead to abandoning traditional or more moderate votes in favor of the Likud, so the result of the Prime Minister's "volunteering" at Jewish Home's expense leaves him the main beneficiary of the move. Barkat does not reject the logic of the scenario, but believes that even if that happens, at the end of the day the bloc will grow, and this is the main goal that the Right is now pursuing.

"Maybe there'll be movement among factions within the bloc, maybe, but as a bloc we benefit from this move. By the way, if as a result one of the parties loses a mandate, things won't stand or fall on that. It will be possible to reach an agreement with the Prime Minister."

Barkat was also asked what he would say to those in Jewish Home who fear that the day after the elections, Netanyahu will say the combination with Otzmah in the coalition does not appeal to him, therefore, he would prefer leaving the right-wing union outside, after this union created a bloc against the Left, and join a coalition with Benny Gantz, who is considered more moderate and centrist.

"We have to sit down with the Prime Minister and the Likud and reach understandings and agreements to run as one big bloc. The Left does this because there's no other choice because it understands that without a union it won't win and it's praying that if we don't unite we'll get a left-wing government headed by Benny Gantz," he said. "This no time to be playing with all kinds of tactical scenarios."

We asked why we should not accept the Jewish Home proposal according to which the entire Right would deal as one large bloc and under one ballot, and after the elections they would split up, everyone back to his own party. On the face of it, such an idea matches Barkat's electoral goals for the Right.

Barkat rejects this: "It's not serious to discuss without studying the polls, and the polls clearly show that close parties can run together in a technical run and make sure they pass the threshold. It doesn't work with distant parties and when you connect parties that don't make sense, you lose votes. We're in favor of the bloc, the systemic vision is to keep forces inside the bloc."