Israeli PM’s party in right-wing pact
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party has voted overwhelmingly to merge its electoral list with that of the ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu group, setting the stage for formation of the most right-wing government in Israeli history if they win elections in January.
More than 1,500 Likud party delegates meeting in Tel Aviv endorsed the plan for the parties to combine that was put forward by Mr Netanyahu and Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman last week. “I have come today to ask that you vote for a strong Likud, a strong prime minister and a strong state of Israel,” Mr Netanyahu told them.
The delegates voted without seeing a written text of the agreement or hearing from Michael Eitan, the sole Likud minister to object.
A newspaper poll showed the joint list would gain 43 seats in the next Knesset, up one from the current 27 for Likud and 15 for Yisrael Beiteinu, and more than double that of Labour, the biggest centre-left party.
Mr Netanyahu pledged Likud would remain an independent party. But analysts think Mr Lieberman, who stoked anti-Arab racism at the last Knesset elections, will have enormous clout. “This is definitely a threat to democracy,” said Menachem Klein, a political scientist at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv.
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