Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party is pressuring two smaller right-wing parties to drop out of the Sept. 17 national election, according to Israeli media reports. Neither of the two parties—Otzma Yehudit and Zehut—is expected to gain enough votes to enter the Knesset, and the Likud is seeking to prevent right-wing votes from being wasted.
Likud negotiator Natan Eshel has reportedly pressured Otzma Yehudit Party leader Itamar Ben-Gvir to drop out of the race, while Likud officials are said to have offered Zehut leader Moshe Feiglin an economy-related ministry position, to cover all of his campaign costs to date and legalize personal use of marijuana—one of Zehut’s central campaign promises—if his party withdraws.
The Otzma Yehudit and Zehut parties are unlikely to garner enough seats to enter the Knesset, according to polls published Monday by Israel’s Kan public broadcaster. The same poll gave Likud 32 seats Blue and White 31.
However, so far neither party has expressed its intentions to drop out of the race.
In a Facebook post, Feiglin wrote “I not violate my assurance to voters,” though “pressure is being applied” with “constant offers.” In the same post, he announced a party conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday to “gather steam for [the] elections.”
Ben-Gvir, in a statement following a meeting with Eshel, said that “without Otzma Yehudit there is no right-wing government and Netanyahu cannot form a government.”