Rafi Peretz
Rafi PeretzYonatan Sindel/Flash90

The United Right party will be hard-pressed to cross the electoral threshold and enter the 22nd Knesset if runs alone with Education Minister Rafi Peretz at the helm, a senior official from a right-wing party warned Monday.

Speaking with Maariv on condition of anonymity, the official said that the recent split between the United Right and the Otzma Yehudit faction, coupled with Peretz’s recent comments backing conversion therapy for gays and lesbians have left the party with a diminished electoral base which impair its ability to secure the 3.25% of the vote needed to enter the Knesset, roughly equivalent to 140,000 votes. In the April 2019 election, the United Right, running with Otzma Yehudit, received 159,468 votes.

“Who will vote for him?” the right-wing official asked rhetorically. “He’s lost the liberal Orthodox, along with the few secular or traditional voters who backed the Jewish Home during Bennett’s tenure.”

The official added that without Otzma Yehudit, the United Right would be outflanked to its right, and would be unable to carry enough ‘Hardal’ voters – or haredi-dati leumi (haredi national religious).

“If they’re looking just to the ‘hardal’ electorate there’s no guarantee they’ll pass the threshold, especially if you don’t have Otzma Yehudit with you.”

The official went on to say that without an alliance with the New Right, Peretz would be unable to lead the United Right into the next Knesset.

Peretz has thus far refused to vacate the top spot on the United Right ticket to former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, with party officials also rejecting a broader alliance between the United Right and the New Right party of Naftali Bennett, who bolted the Jewish Home faction, along with Shaked, in December of last year.

But polls of right-wing voters and the Religious Zionist public show Shaked consistently leading Peretz – and all other potential candidates – as the favorite to lead the United Right joint ticket.

A poll published Sunday by Channel 13 found that 46.3% of Religious Zionist voters preferred Shaked at the top of the United Right, compared to just 16.6% who favored Peretz, with Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich at 13.6% and Naftali Bennett at 12.1%.