This is now my third draft of this blog post since learning that Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked broke away from Bayit Yehudi this evening to form a new party called “The New Right”.
My initial sinking feeling was that this is a disaster for the right.
Once again we’re going to have small right-wing parties failing to pass the electoral threshold, losing all those Knesset seats for the right, opening up the front door and putting out the welcome mat for the left. It’s Oslo 3 and ‘92 all over again.
My second version wasn’t much better as I also thought about Shas fighting for the same voters as Rav Ovadiah’s daughter and Eli Yishai’s party, with all of them losing.
Kachlon disappearing isn’t a bad thing after the damage he’s done to our economy, particularly to Israel’s real estate market. Liberman’s recent ministerial performance won’t help him much either in April.
But those would still be lost seats.
But after taking a few deep breaths, I considered another possible future.
Bennett and Shaked stated they are specifically targeting Likud voters disappointed with the recent performance of Netanyahu and his Likud party.
Instead of voting for Gantz, Bennett has now given those disappointed voters a real alternative within their same underlying ideological bloc.
So that’s just redividing the pie – like what is happening between Gantz, Gabai and Lapid on the left. And a larger right with stronger convictions, particularly Shaked’s convictions, is better than a Likud that could have done so much more with what they were given in this past Knesset.
It’s a good guess that with Bennett out of the Bayit Yehudi picture, Eli Yishai’s Otzma (Yachad) will join forces with Ichud Leumi, and together they’ll take over the remains of Bayit Yehud/Mafdal.
In the end we’ll have three reasonable choices to vote for:
A center-right party (Likud), a right-wing party (The New Right) and a religious right-wing party (Ichud Otzma HaYehudi ).
That wouldn’t be so bad. In fact, that would be good.
(There is another very unlikely possibility, which is that Bennett did this so he could be subsumed into the Likud.)
But which version of the future is going to be the one that plays out?
I don’t know, and that is admittedly the scary part.
Soon enough the polls will begin appearing that will give us some idea as to whether Bennett has just strengthened the right… or completely destroyed it.