Jewish Home leaders quit to form new party ahead of Israeli elections

Jewish Home leaders quit to form new party ahead of Israeli elections
Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said they were quitting the far-right Jewish Home party to found the New Right party.
2 min read
30 December, 2018
Jewish Home leaders announced they were quitting to form a new political party. [Getty]
Leaders of the religious-nationalist Jewish Home party announced on Saturday that they were quitting to form a new political party ahead of April elections in Israel.

Jewish Home leader, Education Minister Naftali Bennet, said that he and his deputy Ayelet Shaked were leaving to form a new party of "religious and secular together... in true partnership".

The party will be called "New Right" and will pursue hard-line security policies and oppose a Palestinian state, Bennet said.

Jewish Home had eight of the Israeli parliament's 120 seats and drew heavily on support from Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The far-right party has been stagnating in opinion polls after failing to attract support from secular Israelis. 

It is not immediately clear if the Jewish Home was continuing as a political party.

The shock move by Bennet and Shaked, the Israeli justice minister, is designed to appeal to secular voters and undermine a centre-left opposition energised by the candidacy of Israeli ex-general Benny Gantz.

Polls have shown that if Gantz - who headed the military from 2011 to 2015 - were to run with a party then the entity could claim 13 to 20 seats of the 120 up for grabs in Israel's Knesset.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition was left with a one-seat majority after defence minister Avigdor Lieberman stepped down in November over a controversial ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip.

Polls say Netanyahu looks set to extend his long reign at the top of Israeli politics, but a slew of corruption investigations have cast a cloud over his future.

Another former military chief Moshe Yaalon, who served as Netanyahu's defence minister from 2013 to 2016, unveiled his own party this week.

A former member of Netanyahu's Likud party, Yaalon has become a critic and rival of his former boss. 

Some media outlets speculated that Yaalon and Gantz could join forces for the election on a centre-right 

Agencies contributed to this report

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