There has reportedly been significant progress in contacts between the Otzma Yehudit and Yachad – Ha'am Itanu parties, as the two religious right-wing factions consider whether to run together on a joint list for the upcoming elections.
Speculation over the possibility of a "technical bloc" – which would see the parties run together in the elections but reserve the (likely) possibility of a split immediately afterwards – has continued over the past several weeks, as successive polls show neither party is likely to make it into the next Knesset if they run alone. Nationalist leaders have warned that such an eventuality could lose the right-wing camp as many as five seats, and effectively grant a victory to the Labor party.
In contrast, several polls have shown that were the two parties to run together they would pass the threshold relatively comfortably, with around five seats.
The most recent poll, conducted by Panels Politics on behalf of the Otzma Yehudit party, showed an even more dramatic increase in support for the two, predicting a total of seven seats were they to run together as a technical bloc.
According to the poll, the parties' strong performance would come at the expense of another religious nationalist party; the Jewish Home, which would receive just 13 seats as opposed to the 16 it was predicted in a previous survey. The Sephardic-haredi Shas party – which Yishai recently broke away from amid heavy acrimony – would also take a hit, falling back down to six seats from the 7-8 it has recently been projected.
That same poll showed Labor and Likud neck-and-neck at first place with 22 seats apiece.
Until recently, Yishai's faction looked unlikely to opt for a technical bloc with Otzma Yehudit, fearing an association with the party of ex-MK Dr. Michael Ben Ari could harm their own party's individual standing among voters who view Ben Ari as "extremist", and hedging their hopes on the few polls which show their party narrowly scraping into the 20th Knesset alone. In contrast, the smaller Otzma Yehudit party has consistently expressed an interest in running together with them.
If progress in talks have indeed been made, it may be a sign of an acceptance within the Ha'am Itanu party that it is the only way for them to make it into the Knesset come March elections.