Owner of Israel's top football club joins new far-right party
JERUSALEM - The owner of Israel's top football club Hapoel Beersheba announced Thursday she was joining a new far-right party ahead of an April 9 general election.
"I want to see our society in a better place," Alona Barkat said in a video released by Hayamin Hehadash, the party formed by government ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked.
"Welcome, winner," Bennett wrote to Barkat on his social media accounts.
Barkat became the first and only woman to own a football club in Israel when she bought Hapoel Beersheba in 2007 with the help of her husband Eli Barkat, a high-tech entrepreneur.
In a statement to the press from Beersheba, in Israel's southern Negev desert, Barkat said that in order to prevent any possible conflicts of interests, she was relieving herself of her duties as club chairwoman.
If elected to parliament, Barkat would be rubbing shoulders with her brother-in-law Nir Barkat, a former Jerusalem mayor who landed ninth place on the list of the right-wing Likud party of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Other members of the party include Caroline Glick, a prominent Israeli journalist who was formerly an assistant foreign policy adviser to Netanyahu. She also contributes to the far-right American website Breitbart News.
Bennett and Shaked split from their former party Jewish Home to form a new grouping they hope will attract a mixture of secular and religious voters.
The party is characterised by its leaders' criticism of "leftist" and "politically correct" discourse, opposition to the formation of a Palestinian state, and the belief that full national rights in historic Palestine should be exclusive to the Jewish community.
The party recently came under fire after one of its members, lawmaker Shuli Moalem, was recorded calling for Israel to be ruled by Jewish religious law.
Recent polls project Hayamin Hehadash, literally the 'New Right', to win between seven and 10 seats in the 120-member parliament.