The Knesset House Committee voted unanimously Monday to approve a proposed split
in the National Union and the formation of a new faction further to the Right on
the political map called Strength for Israel.
MK Uri Ariel, who boycotted
the vote, will remain in the National Union and merge it with Habayit Hayehudi.
MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari will run at the helm of Strength for Israel.
MK Ya’acov Katz, who was rejected by his party’s central committee Sunday, is
expected to quit politics.
Eldad promised that his party would target
voters from Likud rather than compete with the National Union for the support of
settlers. He said he could win over secular right-wing voters who are concerned
about Israeli Arabs and African migrant workers.
He congratulated Ariel,
who was formally approved as National Union chairman Sunday, while slamming
Katz, with whom he often sparred.
“The National Union will succeed no
less because of who will be on their list than who will not be,” Eldad
“Ketzaleh [Katz’s nickname] was not an electoral asset.”
Dialog poll published in Monday’s Haaretz newspaper found that Eldad’s new party
would pass the two percent electoral threshold, but he expressed confidence that
when his party’s name is known, its support will rise.
Eldad noted two
polls that identify the party as led by him that predicted it would win three
The Moledet Party, which did not have an MK in the last Knesset,
announced support for the National Union and criticized Eldad and Ben-Ari.
Moledet leader Uri Bank said a split in the last election made both the National
Union and Habayit Hayehudi “politically impotent” and noted that a 1992 split
enabled the Oslo Accords’ passage.
“The political legacy that I inherited
from Moledet leaders Rehavam Ze’evi and Rabbi Benny Elon is to learn from the
right-wing’s previous mistakes, make every effort for unity in the national
camp, and never give in to divisiveness,” Bank said. “It is very unfortunate
that MKs Eldad and Ben-Ari have weakened our camp with their split, while there
are absolutely no differences on the ideological level. By doing so they have
proven that they have not internalized the lessons of past elections in which
the right-wing divided and suffered sorely for it.”