Photo Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Naftali Bennett and Bezalel Smotrich, November 13, 2017.

The French say, Vendez pas la peau de l’ours avant de l’avoir tué (Don’t sell the bear’s skin before you killed it); English has a similar proverb: Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched; even our own Bible has something similar: He who is putting on his armor shouldn’t boast as if he were taking it off [after a victory] (I Kings 20:11).

Moshe Feiglin on Wednesday told Reshet Bet radio that he is certainly capable of selling unkilled bears, counting unhatched chickens and doing that armor thing, not a problem. The Zehut chairman, who believed his own propaganda about being the fair-haired boy of North Tel Aviv (they didn’t bother to show up at the polling booths) said he is ready to give up the first spot in a unified slate with the New Right to Naftali Bennett.

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Here’s where the bear and the chickens and the armor are buried: in the April 9 elections, the threshold stood at 140,052 votes. Bennett’s and Ayelet Shaked’s New Right party received 138,598, just barely away from the prize. Feiglin’s Zehut, on the other hand, after boasting double digits during their campaign, took only 118,000 votes. So that for Feiglin to concede stuff to Bennett borders on insolence.

Feiglin’s generosity went even further: he told Reshet Bet on Wednesday that Bennett will be first to choose his ministerial positions, should their united slate enter the government. All Feiglin wants in return are the second and third spots on the same slate.

The rest of the religious Zionist parties are also busy carving up the bear before the hunt. According to Kan 11, National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich is trying to prevent Bennett from joining the Rightwing Union, because, as he was quoted, “Bennett will hurt us in the future, we should not give him a chance to return to the game.”

Meanwhile, Smotrich has been working hard to bring Shaked into his Rightwing Union slate, but Shaked is insisting on running all five religious Zionist parties together, in order to create a substantial presence in the Knesset. Which is why Smotrich has conceded—in public—to taking Bennett in, but not unconditionally.

But Habayit Hayehudi chairman Rabbi Rafi Shaked refuses to allow Otzma Yehudit into the religious Zionist holy camp, which would certainly mean the demise of the Rightwing Union slate (Otzma is worth 70,000 votes). That catastrophe will likely be mended by Smotrich, who, unlike Peretz, is a gifted politician.

Ayelet Shaked is right, of course. There were 366,016 lost votes altogether in the last election. Let’s assume that 300,000 of those would have gone to the religious Zionist parties. Add that to the Rightwing Union’s 159,468 vote (five seats), and you’ll max the bloc’s votes at better than half a million: 525,484. It is estimated that a seat in the next Knesset will require about 33,000 votes; so running together without a single additional vote cast in their favor, a 5-member religious Zionist slate should score just under 16 seats.

This is the point the five parties should push, this must be the core of their campaign, to replace Avigdor Liberman as kingmakers, to merge with Netanyahu’s projected 30 seats and the Haredim’s 16 for the desired 61-seat coalition. And then, the sky would be the limit.

A meeting of Rightwing Union and New Right representatives is expected on Wednesday, now that Ayelet is back from her much publicized vacation in the Canadian Rockies. Someone should tell these folks that with Ayelet at the helm, under the current circumstances, with voters fleeing the Likud party (so far it is down to 30 seats from 35) they could attract even more than 15 mandates.

Also, tell them that running alone they could make religious Zionism disappear from the Knesset, for the first time in its history.

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