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Netanyahu. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made great efforts ahead of Israel's March 23 elections to ensure that Jewish supremacists from the Jewish Power party will make it into Israel's parliament, the Knesset.

Why it matters: This move is equivalent to a U.S. president cutting a political deal with David Duke, the former KKK leader. Netanyahu and the ruling Likud party are legitimizing a racist, xenophobic and homophobic fringe party in hopes that their right-wing bloc will reach a 61-seat majority.

Between the lines: With a parliamentary majority, Netanyahu could pass laws aimed at stopping his corruption trial.

Driving the news: Netanyahu was involved in the negotiations to form a new electoral list called “The Religious Zionism,” which combines three radical parties.

  • Jewish Power is led by Itamar Ben-Gvir, who was convicted in 2007 of supporting a terror organization and inciting racism. Ben-Gvir is best-known for ripping the Cadillac emblem off of then-Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s car in 1995 and declaring, “We reached Rabin’s car, we will get to Rabin too." Rabin was assassinated later that year.
  • The National Union is led by Bezalel Smotrich, who has a history of racist remarks about Israeli Arabs, said the murder of a Palestinian family by Jewish settlers was not terrorism, and organized an anti-gay parade in Jerusalem, which he called “the beast parade." Smotrich is a moderate by the standards of the list.
  • Noam is a radical religious party that focuses primarily on opposing LGBT rights.
  • To sweeten the deal, Netanyahu saved a spot on the Likud electoral list for a member from Smotrich’s party to ensure their election.

But the most dramatic step happened when Netanyahu’s Likud party signed a “surplus agreement” with the new radical right-wing list.

  • In Israel's proportional representation system, such agreements allow parties to combine surplus votes in hopes of gaining an additional seat.
  • Thus, Likud voters could effectively hand another seat to the Jewish supremacists.

Flashback: Netanyahu has done this once before. Ahead of the April 2019 elections, he helped form a list that included Jewish Power and two other radical right-wing, pro-settler parties.

  • The Supreme Court banned one of Jewish Power’s candidates before the elections, and while the list won enough votes to enter the Knesset, no Jewish Power candidates qualified.
  • In 2019, the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC issued an unusual statement condemning Netanyahu. This time AIPAC hasn't said anything.

The backstory: Jewish Power was formed by the followers of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was elected to the Knesset in 1984 and proposed laws to strip non-Jews of citizenship and segregate beaches, among other steps.

  • His Kach party was boycotted by all other parties in the Knesset, banned from running in Israel's 1988 elections, and later designated a terror organization by Israel, the U.S., Canada and the EU.
  • At the time, senior Likud members compared Kahane's policies to the Nuremberg Laws passed by the Nazis before the Holocaust.

What’s next: If the right-wing bloc does win at least 61 seats, Netanyahu will be dependent on the Jewish supremacists to form a coalition.

  • Netanyahu said Ben-Gvir will be a member of his coalition but not a minister in the government.

Go deeper

Hope King, author of Closer
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Peloton pumps its brakes

Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

Peloton’s popularity is falling as swiftly as it shot up.

Why it matters: Not all pandemic habits stick around. Peloton's trajectory over the past two years exemplifies how challenging it's been for companies to gauge shifts in consumer demand — particularly in sectors heavily altered by the pandemic.

First look: Senators propose bill to ban corporate PACs

Sens. Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly. Photos: Chip Somodevilla (left), Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Sens. Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) will soon propose a bill prohibiting for-profit corporations from establishing and managing political action committees, according to a copy of the legislation obtained by Axios.

Why it matters: The introduction of "The Ban Corporate PACs Act" comes amid heightened scrutiny on Capitol Hill regarding money in politics, including efforts to bar companies from influencing political campaigns and federal elections. It would likely face a court challenge and First Amendment concerns.

3 hours ago - Technology

Exclusive: YouTube shuts down two Oath Keepers channels

Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. (Photo: Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

YouTube has deactivated two channels linked to the Oath Keepers militia group whose members have been charged in relation to the January 6 Capitol riot, the company told Axios.

The big picture: Social media platforms that were used to plan or promote the Capitol attack have moved with varying degrees of speed to bar the accounts involved.

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