After a few days of party splits, the last 48 hours have been all talk about party mergers.
Rumours about a merger on the ‘centre’ continue. A new poll showed a theoretical merged party of Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid getting 24 seats, though that same poll had higher vote-shares (12 for Kulanu, 11 for Lapid) than other recent polls anyway. I wonder if the poll asked about the merged party first, which would artificially boost the two parties in the seperate question? Either way, despite meetings between Lapid and Kahlon, a merger is still being strongly denied.
An alternative merger being discussed is between Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Liberman has been trying to rebrand his party as pragmatic and centrist. Again, no deal has been reached but there are rumours that Liberman and Lapid discussed it.
Staying on mergers, the merger between Eli Yishai’s new party, now called “Ha’Am Itanu” (the nation is with us) and the Tekuma faction hasn’t happened yet. Tekuma leader Uri Ariel has reportedly been made a counter-offer by Naftali Bennett to stay in Bayit Yehudi in return for higher-placed candidates on the joint list. Yishai and Ariel reportedly met on Tuesday, but no deal is done.
Yishai might be worrying, as the latest polls show his new party on only four seats and very close to not making the election threshold at all. Deri’s Shas is similarly suffering, with both parties at real risk of not making it into the next Knesset.
Naftali Bennett also made a video disguised as a bearded Tel Aviv hipster apologising to people. It’s quite funny and well-done and gets its political point across.
Professor Manuel Trajtenberg is most famous for writing the Trajtenberg report, the response and plan for responding to the demands of the summer 2011 cost-of-living protesters. Yesterday (Wednesday) he resigned from his Government job to enter politics. The talk is that he’ll join the Labour party. This is something of a blow to Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party, as many people expected Trajtenberg to run with Kahlon. Kulanu has still not announced any major names as joining its list.
The Likud primary dates saga continues. First, Banjamin Netanyahu tried to move the general primary earlier, to make it the same day as their leadership primary. This suits him as it makes it harder for his challengers, Danny Danon and Moshe Feiglin, and it’s also a lot cheaper for the party. There was an internal vote and Netanyahu won. Then Danon and Feiglin appealed to a Likud internal court, which ruled that the vote was no good and so the old dates would stand. Now Netanyahu has appealed again and won again. But it’s not over, with Fieglin and Danon considering going to a ‘real’ court to try to argue their case.
And in perhaps the oddest news of the day, Shmuel Flatto-Sharon announced that he would run in the Likud primaries to seek a seat in Knesset. Flatto-Sharon was a French Jew who fled to Israel in the 1970s after embezzling $60 million. He was going to be extradited back to France until he realised that Knesset members all get immunity from extradition, so he formed the Flatto-Sharon Party in 1977. Via a combination of clever campaigning and outright bribery, Flatto-Sharon managed to win TWO seats in the Knesset. He wasn’t re-elected and became a talkshow host and media figure. I doubt he’ll get a good place on the Likud list but you never know.