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Why Are Left-Wing Israelis Joining Benjamin Netanyahu’s Right-Wing Party?

Left-leaning Israeli voters are joining Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right wing Likud party by the thousands with the hopes of influencing it from within.

According to a report in Haaretz, about 6,000 center and left-of-center voters have joined Likud through an organization called the New Likudniks.

The group is taking a page from the playbook of West Bank settlers who vote for Likud even as their politics are closer to the ultra right wing nationalist Jewish Home party.

The New Likudniks says it aims to create a “liberal Zionist center” in the government on its web site, advocating measures to lower the cost of living, and advance freedom of religion and human rights. The group deliberately avoids taking a stance on Palestinian statehood and Israeli borders, saying that the issue has been focused on to the exclusion of others in Israel.

At a New Likudnik recruitment event in the Jezreel Valley, Etti Markovich said she joined Likud in order to influence the primaries.

“I’ve never voted Likud, but it’s the party in power, and I’m afraid it will take time to replace it,” she said, according to Haaretz.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at [email protected]

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