Smotrich (l) and Ben-Gvir (r)
Smotrich (l) and Ben-Gvir (r) Flash90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is working to broker an agreement between the National Union party of Bezalel Smotrich and Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben-Gvir, to ensure the two parties run on a joint list in the upcoming election, thus avoid wasting votes for the right-wing bloc, Walla reported Sunday.

According to the report, officials close to Netanyahu spoke with Ben-Gvir over the weekend, and managed to secure his agreement to the idea of uniting Otzma Yehudit with the National Union.

Ben-Gvir has yet to meet or speak directly with Smotrich regarding the possibility of a joint run, the report claimed, with the National Union chief waiting to first see the results of the Jewish Home internal elections this week before deciding on possible alliances.

Smotrich, who ran with Yamina in the previous election, has declared plans to run independently of Yamina in the upcoming elections, at the helm of a rebranded National Union ticket dubbed the Religious Zionist Party.

Smotrich announced the independent bid after he said Yamina chief Naftali Bennett refused to commit to only back a right-wing coalition government.

Recent polls show the Religious Zionist Party either barely crossing the 3.25% electoral threshold, or failing to cross it, potentially leaving the faction out of the next Knesset.

An alliance with Otzma Yehudit, however, could push the ticket over the threshold.

According to a report by Channel 12, Netanyahu promised Smotrich and Ben-Gvir that if the two parties run together and enter a Netanyahu-led government, they will be given double representation in the coalition. Thus, if the joint list were to win five seats, they would get the number of appointments that would normally go to a party of ten seats.

A spokesperson for Smotrich responded to the report, saying: “We will not allow outside political interests to get involved in our affairs,” adding that the National Union is “busy building the broadest possible candidate list, one which will include the entire spectrum of Religious Zionism and allow everyone to feel represented.”

Otzma Yehudit offered a response as well, with Ben-Gvir saying: “No one needs to exert any pressure on me. I always have been in favor of alliances, and today I still call on my friends to join with us for the sake of a right-wing victory.”

This week, the Jewish Home, which split from Yamina earlier this year, is set to hold a leadership election. The race pits party director-general Nir Orbach – a key Bennett ally – against Hagit Moshe.

While Orbach has vowed to unite the Jewish Home with Yamina, Moshe has refused to commit to an alliance with Yamina, and is being supported heavily by Smotrich and his allies.

Last week, it was reported that Ben-Gvir refused to attend a meeting with Smotrich brokered by Netanyahu confidants.

While Ben-Gvir had agreed in principle to attend the meeting, he conditioned his participation on receiving an explicit promise that the meeting would not be used to pressure Bennett. Netanyahu’s confidants refused to make such a promise, and the meeting was cancelled.

A spokesperson for Netanyahu denied any knowledge of the attempt to arrange such a meeting.

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