Naftali Bennett, a former adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, announced Monday that he is joining Habayit Hayehudi and will run for the party chairmanship.

Bennett, a former director-general of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, formed the Yisraelim party two weeks ago and would have run with it had an election been held September 4 as planned at the time.

But because the election was not advanced, Bennett decided he had enough time to build himself up in an existing party.

In a message he released on YouTube and Facebook, Bennett, 40, called upon young persons of all religious backgrounds to join Habayit Hayehudi’s membership drive, which ends in August ahead of the September 4 leadership race. Bennett will face off in the race against MKs Zevulun Orlev and Daniel Herschkowitz, the incumbent.

“Our goal is to unite the entire Zionist community under one umbrella: religious, traditional and secular,” Bennett said.

Bennett complained that religious Zionists have an impact on many fields in Israeli society but not in the Knesset. He said, for instance, that they did not succeed in stopping the 10- month construction moratorium in Judea and Samaria in 2009 to 2010.

Former IDF chief rabbi Brig.- Gen. (res) Avichai Ronsky will join Bennett as a Knesset candidate in Habayit Hayehudi. Bennett said the only way to guarantee the future influence of religious Zionists was to reach out to non-religious Zionists and join them in building a large party.

“It’s time for religious Zionists to run the country,” he said.

“We should not be the kashrut supervisors of the country. We should be its leaders.”

Orlev issued a statement praising Bennett’s decision to run with Habayit Hayehudi, rather than against it. He called upon more young people to join the party.

Uri Orbach, an MK in the party, has called a press conference for Tuesday at the Knesset to announce his own political future.

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