New Faces of Israel's Election

Competition on Right and Center and for Orthodox Vote

Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.
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Fresh Face: Ex-news anchor Yair Lapid may not become the next Israeli prime minister. But he leads a crop of fresh faces contesting this month’s general election.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published January 07, 2013, issue of January 04, 2013.
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Moshe Feiglin
Moshe Feiglin


In Likud’s party primary prior to the last election in 2009, far-rightist Moshe Feiglin scored 20th on the party’s candidate roster. But party leader Benjamin Netanyahu had him demoted by the Likud elections committee to slot 36, keeping him out of the Knesset. This time around, Feiglin is 15th on the Likud list, and the party’s shift to the right has made demotion out of the question. This time, Feiglin looks almost certain to become a lawmaker.

Feiglin’s expected ascension is the payoff for 18 years of planning. He launched his political career by calling for mass civil disobedience to protest the Oslo peace process in the mid-1990s. He founded his own movement, Zo Artzeinu, in 1994, which became Manhigut Yehudit in 1996. The idea was to establish a radical faction inside Likud to push the party to the right. Now, if all goes as expected, he will be able to will be able to do this from inside the Knesset.

Feiglin wants to annex the West Bank, stop all foreign aid, and offer Palestinians — who would have residency but not citizenship under his annexation plan — cash incentives to emigrate.

Feiglin, 51, told the Forward that he won’t be making any compromises once he’s in the Knesset. “The reason it has taken me so long to get to Knesset is that I’m an individual who sticks to his principles, and I’ll continue to be this way … I’m not going to Knesset just to warm a seat.”

Feiglin is bringing a more religious agenda to Likud than ever seen in the past. He wants Israel to strongly state a religious claim over the entire biblical Land of Israel. One of his highest-profile campaign-time activities has been leading communal prayer on Temple Mount. This is thought to be a first — Israel Police maintains that this isn’t permitted under the status quo agreement that gives the Muslim Waqf control over the site, and has detained him in the past for trying to pray communally there.

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