Yahad, the political party founded by former Shas chief and ex-interior minister Eli Yishai following his departure from Shas, may be forced to run alone in this year’s Knesset election, with Thursday night’s deadline for submitting candidate lists approaching and no deals finalized with larger factions.
Yishai, who led the Shas party from 1999 to 2013, bolted from the faction in 2014, ahead he lost control of the party to former chief Aryeh Deri.
In 2015, Yishai founded the Yahad party, bringing on Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun. The faction ran on a joint list with the smaller right-wing party Otzma Yehudit, led by Hevron activist Baruch Marzel. Despite polls suggesting the alliance could win four to five seats, the joint ticket narrowly failed to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold, winning just 2.97% of the vote and failing to enter the Knesset.
In recent weeks, Yishai had sought to run in a technical bloc with the Jewish Home and National Union.
Despite indications Wednesday that Yishai would receive the sixth place on a joint right-wing ticket spanning the Jewish Home, National Union, and Otzma, by Thursday afternoon, no deals had been reached with the Jewish Home.
Candidate lists for the Knesset must be submitted by Thursday night, leaving Yahad with just hours to reach an 11th hour agreement with another party.
Yahad has engaged in talks with the Shas party for a technical bloc – allowing the two factions to split immediately after the election – though the talks between Yahad’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Meir Mazuz and Shas’ Rabbi David Yosef have reportedly reached an impasse, with Shas calling for the inclusion of a Yahad candidate other than Yishai on the joint list.
On Wednesday, it was reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has expressed concerns that the multiplicity of small right-wing parties failing to cross the threshold could hand a victory to the left-wing bloc, offered Yishai a ministry in the 35th government in exchange for Yishai not running an independent campaign.
Recent polls show Yishai’s list coming in far below the 3.25% minimum threshold if it does run independently, with some polls showing Yahad failing to receive even 1% of the vote.