Upstart party turns cannabis into key Israeli election issue

Fringe party led by ultranationalist Israeli libertarian vows to legalize marijuana in improbable run for parliament

JERUSALEM -- The Cinderella story of Israel's current election campaign is a fringe party led by an ultranationalist libertarian with a criminal record who vows to legalize marijuana, and seems to diverge dramatically from the long list of quirky candidates of the past who have drawn attention to their improbable runs for parliament.

For starters, Moshe Feiglin's Zehut party has a real shot of getting elected and could even emerge as a kingmaker in a tightly contested race for prime minister.

But his seemingly liberal civic platform, which has generated a strong hipster following, could be masking a far more polarizing agenda. The political manifesto of his Zehut — Hebrew for identity — party includes canceling signed agreements with the Palestinians and making Israeli Arab citizens pass a loyalty test.