In December 2018, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and MK Shuli Mualem shocked the Israeli political establishment by breaking off from the Jewish Home party which Bennett had led, and established the New Right party.

The faction, which positioned itself in between the Likud and the Jewish Home, declared itself the political home for both secular and religious rightists, providing an alternative to the Orthodox Jewish Home – National Union alliance.

Polls for the party initially projected it would win as many as 10 to 14 seats in the 120 member Knesset.

Even after the initial burst of enthusiasm wore off, however, and new parties, like the Zehut faction, drew some of its voters, the New Right still polled safely above the 3.25% minimum threshold on the eve of last Tuesday’s election. In the final week of polling, the New Right was projected to win anywhere from five to seven seats.

Yet on election day, the New Right came up short, receiving missing the threshold by just 1,400 votes.

In exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, American-born conservative journalist and New Right Knesset candidate Caroline Glick explored the reasons behind her party’s defeat – while explaining her sense of optimism despite the loss.

“Obviously there’s a lot of disappointment because we were hoping to get into the Knesset. I was hoping to be a member of the Knesset. And with Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked I think it’s a national loss that they’re not going to be ministers in the next government.”

Despite the party’s defeat – a personal loss for her and a blow to the right-wing bloc – Glick was sanguine about the prospects for advancing the New Right’s sovereignty agenda in the next Knesset.

“I joined the race for the Knesset with the [New Right] because I have an ideology that I’ve devoted my entire career to advancing: applying Israeli law to Judea and Samaria, ending our commitment to the failed Oslo process and the two-state solution.

“In the last week of the election, Prime Minister Netanyahu, for the first time, said he supports applying Israeli law to the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria. I don’t think that that is enough, but I think that that is a world apart from where we were ten years ago, five years ago, and it's extraordinary.

“Then at the beginning of this week we got the leak from The Washington Post that said that President Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ does not involve establishing a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. These are things that I’ve been fighting for. So it is hard to feel defeated when I see that everything I’ve been working towards is being adopted by Prime Minister Netanyahu on the one hand and President Trump on the other.”

Why did the New Right fail?

In explaining her party’s failure to cross the threshold – and its disappointing showing considering the pre-election polling – Glick suggested that the New Right’s fall could be largely attributed to the rise of another right-wing faction – Zehut.

Zehut, which embraced both the annexation of Judea and Samaria along with libertarian economic positions, drew from the same base of voters as the New Right, Glick claims.

Yet the New Right failed to respond during the campaign, focusing instead on the Jewish Home party.

“Why did we fail? I think the main reason we failed, honestly, is because the campaign, Bennett, Shaked… were unwilling to deal with the challenge that we were surprised by from Zehut, Moshe Feiglin’s party. I think that they had come into the race with certain expectations, that there were would be two ideological parties to the right of Likud, the [New Right] and the [Jewish Home]. Then, suddenly, they were faced with a third actor. Zehut really was challenging us from an ideological perspective.

“Their positions weren’t that different from ours on economic issues, although their policies for them were delusional in many ways and incapable of being implemented. And of course they had their whole drug legalization thing.

“The final results show that they got the equivalent of three mandates in the Knesset; we got almost four – we were short just about 1,000 votes – so seven mandates [combined]. If you take one – one-and-a-half and say that [vote] was for the drugs, they still have one – one-and-a-half mandates that are from ideological right-wing voters that would otherwise have been voting for Bennett and Shaked. And they [Bennett and Shaked] weren’t heeding the warnings. They had a plan and they stuck with it, even though during the course of the election it was clear that we were facing a significant challenge from Feiglin.”

Was the New Right a mistake?

Even with its defeat, Glick was hesitant to call the establishment of the New Right a mistake, noting that the party gave large numbers of Israeli voters a political home.

“Was it a mistake to form the new party? Should they have stayed in the Jewish Home or gone into the Likud? Well, I don’t think that going into the Likud was really an option. I don’t think that the doors were open to Bennett and Shaked for a host of reasons. So it was really a question of whether to stay in the [Jewish Home] or to form a new party.

“I think that there is a demand in Israel for a party is that is more traditional, less openly religious, and also less harsh in its interpretations of halakha [Jewish law]. There are a lot of voters in Israel – here in my community of Efrat, for instance, we won. We came in ten points ahead of Likud and [Jewish Home] was third place. And also the same thing in a lot of the different communities in Gush Etzion, because people have a much more modern Orthodox vision for Judaism and halakhic interpretations. The problem, again, is that when you thought you were going to be in an election with just one other ideological party to the right of the Likud and then you suddenly find yourself with a third one, are you going to be able to pivot, here what we ran into was an inability to change course in the middle when the circumstances required it.”