Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz dropped out of the Habayit
Hayehudi race on Monday night, backing MK Zevulun Orlev as party leader, a move
that is likely to hurt third candidate Naftali Bennett.
The two said
that, after three years of open animosity, they were inspired by Shas’s
leadership triumvirate and decided to run Habayit Hayehudi together, inviting
Bennett to join them.
Orlev and Herschkowitz said that, while the former
will be the first person on the party’s list, should he win the November 6
primary, he will share all leadership responsibilities with the latter. As
Herschkowitz has dropped out of the party primary entirely, those
responsibilities could be either a ministerial position, should Habayit Hayehudi
join the next coalition, or heading internal party affairs. The Habayit Hayehudi
candidates refused to describe the details of their
Herschkowitz joked that, while he believes the party will grow
to double- digits in the next Knesset, he does not think Orlev will be prime
minister, and as such, only Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu can promise
Before the press conference, Bennett ally Ayelet
Shaked, who is running in the party primary, said “Herschkowitz was helped by
Netanyahu, who is afraid of a strong, influential Habayit Hayehudi. They
are trying to leave the party small and conflicted.”
said the deal exemplifies “old politics with deals and giving out jobs,” and
called it “sad that the only time in recent years that Orlev and Herschkowitz
could talk to each other was when they tried to stop renewal within Habayit
Herschkowitz, however, denied that Netanyahu or his close
adviser Natan Eshel were involved in the deal with Orlev.
“I want it to
make it clear for everyone: The Prime Minister’s Office had no connection,
direct or indirect, to our decision. Any other claim is just a spin,”
Herschkowitz stated. “Trying to make Netanyahu mad at Habayit Hayehudi is a bad
idea. We think he will be the prime minister, and we don’t think [Labor leader
Shelly] Yacimovich or [former Kadima leader] Tzipi Lvini would be better than
At the same time, Herschkowitz insisted that “Habayit
Hayehudi does not represent Netanyahu. We are not Likud number two, we are
When asked if he made a deal with Herschkowitz out
of concern that they would lose to Bennett, a newcomer to the party, Orlev said:
“I am not afraid; I have an interest to protect [Habayit Hayehudi forbearer]
National Religious Party values.
This is a fight for the future of the
Should Bennett win, Orlev said he would accept it and stay in the
At the end of the press conference, Dr. Yehuda David, a former
Bennett ally, said he moved to Herschkowitz and Orlev’s camp, because unity is
essential for the national-religious camp.
“Something that stands on
three legs is very stable,” David said, calling for Bennett to join the unity
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