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Woman owner of Israel’s top football club joins new far-right party

The owner of Israeli football champions Hapoel Beersheba, Alona Barkat, says she will stand for parliament in an April general election for new far-right party Hayamin Hehadash © AFP/File / MENAHEM KAHANA

JERUSALEM, ZZZ, Feb 7 – 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.

The were struggling in the second division at the time and playing in a dilapidated stadium, a far cry from its glory days of the 1970s.

It returned to Israel’s premier league in 2009 and in 2016 won their first national title in four decades.

They repeated the feat in 2017 and 2018.

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.

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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.

Recent polls project Hayamin Hehadash, literally the new right, to win between seven and 10 seats in the 120-member parliament.

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