Bayit Yehudi began efforts to woo voters away from Shas even before the death of
the Sephardi party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, party officials revealed on
Several parties intend to focus on Shas’s poor, underclass
voters in the periphery and the inner cities, hoping that they will defect from
the party in Yosef’s absence. But Bayit Yehudi did not wait until the rabbi died
Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett met with former Shas MK
Haim Amsalem two weeks ago to discuss whether Amsalem’s Am Shalem party should
run together with Bayit Yehudi in the next national election.
complained that Bennett reneged on a deal for the two parties to run together in
last January’s vote.
Pensioners Affairs Minister Uri Orbach, who brokered
that deal with Amsalem, said he was confident an agreement could be reached for
next time. Orbach said Amsalem was a natural fit for Bayit Yehudi and could help
persuade non-ultra-Orthodox Shas voters that the religious-Zionist party was an
ideal fit for them.
“Amsalem could bring new voters to Bayit Yehudi,”
Orbach said. “If we win 20 seats, there is room for everyone.”
stressed that the meeting was scheduled a month before it took place, well
before the rabbi was on his deathbed.
Bennett has made a point of
appealing to Shas voters recently.
Bayit Yehudi took out an advertisement
in the Shas organ Yom Leyom for the first time this week memorializing
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot on Rosh Hashana, Bennett
distanced himself from his ally, Finance Minister and Yesh Atid chairman Yair
Lapid, and said that his prototype middleclass “Ricky Cohen” was a lot poorer
Ahead of the October 22 municipal elections, Bayit Yehudi
is running mayoral candidates in development towns with large Sephardi
populations. Bayit Yehudi’s Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan,
who is a Sephardi rabbi, has been a popular speaker at the party’s campaign
rallies to target Shas voters.
Amsalem said that if a deal cannot be
reached with Bayit Yehudi, Am Shalem will run alone and will take mandates away
“Without Maran [Yosef], Shas no longer has a right to exist,”
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