A few weeks ago, I was speaking to an Israeli-American journalist who I’ve known since college. He maintains close contact with his secular cosmopolitan circle in Tel Aviv and offered me a surprising tip: some of his friends who had previously supported parties like Labor and Yesh Atid, but were otherwise apolitical, were now considering a vote for Moshe Feiglin’s Zehut party.

Feiglin, a religious extremist and proponent of incentivizing Palestinian emigration from the West Bank, who is best known for challenging Netanyahu from the right when he was a Likud member, is not at first glance someone who could appeal to a cross-section of Israeli society. He is anathema to the center-left for obvious reasons, but he found life difficult in Likud as well; though Feiglin was elected to the Knesset in 2013, in Netanyahu’s eyes he was a most unwelcome irritant. Feiglin also has limited appeal among the National-Religious and the ultra-Orthodox communities, the former having its own well-established parties and the latter uncomfortable with his support of a robust Jewish presence on the Temple Mount.

So how did Feiglin win over at least a handful of liberals and somehow find himself in contention for four Knesset seats? It appears to be a result of his melding of religious nationalism and libertarianism (legalizing marijuana in particular). He has thus far not alienated either constituency but his dance will be difficult to maintain as stronger parties on the right seek to deflate Zehut to their advantage while more liberal parties invariably cite his well-documented record of anti-Arab extremism and religious fundamentalist views.

Legalizing marijuana is a peripheral but not entirely irrelevant issue on the Israeli political scene. In the last election, Ale Yarok, a party mainly committed to legalization, won a little more than one percent of the vote. With no similar party contesting the elections this year, that leaves almost 50,000 voters up for grabs – voters whose number one issue is legalization of cannabis.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tested the waters by declaring that he was considering supporting changes to Israel’s drug laws, which currently deem marijuana a controlled substance (with allowances for its medical use). It remains unclear if this commitment is genuine or merely an election maneuver, but it was definitely a sign that he takes Zehut’s apparent rise in the polls seriously enough. Avi Gabbay, Labor’s chairman, also tried to get in on the fun by invoking his own time as a pot smoker.

The main reason to be skeptical of Zehut’s political viability is that its campaign strategy is one of deception. Unlike the Pensioners’ Party, a one-issue movement that catapulted itself into the Knesset in the 2006 elections, Feiglin’s stance on marijuana is, by any honest assessment, a tiny strand of his political project, the heart of which is the annexation of the whole of Eretz Yisrael (including reconquering Gaza) and Jewish control of the Temple Mount. Fortunately, the number of Israelis who support his vision appears to be below the 3.25 percent electoral threshold, which means Zehut needs to take votes elsewhere. In theory, his modest army of true believers combined with disaffected young voters attracted to libertarianism could be just enough to put him over the top. The trick is to ensure the latter doesn’t get wind of the party’s true intentions. Feiglin has gone as far as to suggest that he’s open to forming a coalition with Kachol Lavan, which no one who is tangentially familiar with his doctrinaire politics is ready to believe.

Zehut’s gambit is unlikely to pay off. With Labor and Meretz fighting for scraps in an election that has turned into a contest between Likud and Kachol Lavan, neither center-left party has much to lose by supporting relaxed drug laws and they won’t have to persuade many Zehut voters to push Feiglin beneath the threshold. For his part, Netanyahu will do what he can to poach Feiglin’s voters, many of whom previously supported Likud, by either directly appealing to their fears of a left-wing government or having the United Right Party do that particular dirty work. Feiglin’s reluctance to rule out a coalition with Kachol Lavan isn’t likely to help him retain voters who want to see Netanyahu return after the vote.

If I’m wrong and Feiglin does manage to maintain his strength and enter the Knesset as the head of his own party, Netanyahu will be forced to negotiate with a rival on the right who is sternly sincere in his fanaticism. It won’t be 2013, where he was a powerless MK and the coalition government was a relatively moderate one. Feiglin will have enormous leverage over a beleaguered and indicted Netanyahu, and that should be a source of crippling anxiety for anyone concerned about the future of democracy in the Jewish state.