Will Smotrich run as the head of an independent party?

MK Bezalel Smotrich rebranding his party following failed meeting with Bennett.

Ben Ariel ,

Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel Smotrich
David Weil

Following a failed meeting on Tuesday evening with Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett, MK Bezalel Smotrich is preparing for an independent run in the upcoming Knesset elections.

As part of the preparations, Smotrich will be launching a separate election campaign this week, and is rebranding the party he heads as the "Religious Zionist party led by Bezalel Smotrich".

Ads of the rebranded party will be published this weekend in religious Zionist newspapers and in the Shabbat leaflets, as part of Smotrich's effort to build an option for an independent run in the elections.

A poll conducted by the Midgam Institute which was published on Channel 12 News on Tuesday found that if Bennett separates from Smotrich, his party would win 16 seats (one at the expense of Gideon Sa’ar and one at the expense of Yair Lapid) while Smotrich would win just 2.3% of the votes.

Tuesday evening’s meeting between Smotrich and Bennett took place after a two-week rift between the sides, and in the wake of pressure exerted on the two to reach an agreement. At the meeting, however, no agreement was reached on the issues in dispute, including the division of seats in the top ten spots on the slate.

Earlier this week, there were reported contacts between Bennett and the Jewish Home regarding the inclusion of a representative of the party on the Yamina slate for the Knesset, but the Jewish Home has yet to elect a new chairman for the party to replace the recently resigned Rabbi Rafi Peretz.

The director of the Jewish Home, Nir Orbach, who is considered close to Bennett, announced on Tuesday evening that he will run for the position.