Too much unity on the Right may bring down the right-wing bloc

The pressure is on to 'unite the Right.' But will it save the bloc, or lead it to disaster? Opinion.

Prof. Asher Cohen,

Professor Asher Cohen
Professor Asher Cohen
Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

From every direction, there are calls for the right-wing parties to join forces. There are those who insist that there is no room for more than one party to the right of the Likud. And the optimists have promised a two-digit number of seats.

With all due respect to the trauma of losing 260,000 votes, it's worth carefully examining these statements and the benefit which will come from them.

The basic numbers are known. There are just more than 400,000 voters: 160,000 votes for the United Right managed to create four and a half Knesset seats (the fifth came from a vote-sharing agreement), with the help of Otzma Yehudit. Another 140,000 votes went for the New Right, and 120,000 votes went to Zehut; neither of them passed the electoral threshold.

Anyone who thinks that uniting the forces - even if it's just a technical bloc - will bring most of the voters to vote for that bloc, is daydreaming. It's worth remembering that the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu list in 2013 only hurt both of them.

Unions, with all due respect and the PR they've had lately, repel a nice amount of voters.

Those who will not vote for a list which includes Otzma Yehudit have already been spoken about often, and their numbers are not few. But Religious Zionism's liberal branch includes those who won't vote for a union which is predominantly more religious, regardless of Otzma Yehudit. Rabbi Rafi Peretz, Bezalel Smotrich, and Moti Yogev repel them even before we discuss [Itamar] Ben-Gvir. It could be that this trend gained even more strength after the reports about coordination with the haredim on issues of religion and state.

The more religious branch of Religious Zionism has already spoken out against a unification with [New Right chairman] Naftali Bennett, and even against a possible unification with Ayelet Shaked (New Right). For more details, you can ask those close to the Har Hamor yeshiva. A joint list, therefore may repel a decent amount of Religious Zionist voters.

Now we must remember the voters whose kippah (skullcap) is the sky. If we forgot for a moment, there are decent numbers of them among the New Right and Zehut voters. If some of the Religious Zionist liberals run away from such a union, voters whose kippah is the sky will certainly run away from it, and at a greater speed. These will not vote for a party whose list is mostly religious, unless they see significant representation there.

Anyone thinking of how to save the right-wing bloc and reach 61 Knesset seats without [Yisrael Beytenu Chairman MK Avigdor] Liberman may well find that a larger joint list will itself be what brings down the bloc. How does that work? Some of the voters will indeed run to the Likud, but the right-wing bloc already includes no small number of those who are no longer willing to support a Likud led by [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu. This trend has only gained traction after the previous elections and what happened then. They may well run to the Blue and White, which will being to emphasize its more right-wing components, or to Liberman, thereby causing the right-wing bloc to shrink.

Back to the numbers. Three parties for 400,000 people come with a huge risk, as we've already seen. Despite this, we must consider intermediate options before jumping to a general joint list, which is not necessarily the right solution.