Israeli Right-Wing Parties Court Gay Votes

With the election just weeks away, right-wing parties scramble for enough votes to gain the upper hand

Will gay votes tip the balance in Israel's election?
Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90

With Israel’s next election just three weeks away, the various parties are looking for new sources of votes in order to avoid the kind of political deadlock that has resulted in this being the fourth election in just two years.

The Right will almost certainly win an overall majority in Knesset, but that won’t be enough to effectively govern as many of the right-wing parties won’t sit with one another, and can’t agree on who should be prime minister. (See: Who Will Mend Israel’s Fractured Political Landscape?)

As such, they need votes from outside their traditional constituencies in order to gain the upper hand. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud has taken the unorthodox step of approaching the Palestinian Authority in a bid for more Israeli Arab votes. The two other prominent right-wing parties, Yamina and New Hope, have gone a different route, and are courting the LGBT community.

Last week, New Hope leader Gideon Sa’ar and Yamina chief Naftali Bennett, along with Yisrael Beiteinu’s Avigdor Liberman, met with representatives of the LGBT movement in Israel.

Bennett, who is a religious Zionist, has for years advocated equal rights for Israel’s LGBT community, and reportedly promised at last week’s meeting that if he becomes prime minister, he will take seriously any homosexual agenda that comes across his desk.

LGBT reps told Channel 12 News that Sa’ar promised to go even further and to take on the Chief Rabbinate in regards to allowing homosexual couples to adopt children.

The media criticized Netanyahu and Likud for not joining the meeting, suggesting that the prime minister is less interested in the gay vote this time around. Of course, Likud by now hardly needs to prove its tolerance toward the LGBT movement. In 2019, Netanyahu appointed the first openly gay government minister in the history of the State of Israel, Amir Ohana.

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