In the days after the 2005 disengagement, when families from Atzmona in Gush Katif lived in tents outside Netivot in the Negev, their leader, Zvulun Kalfa, was nicknamed Mayor of the City of Faith.

Now, more than seven years later, after he helped the families relocate to Kibbutz Shomriya, also in the northern Negev, the Atzmona leader is setting his eyes on a more national agenda.

As No. 7 on the Bayit Yehudi list, he is one of 48 new members of the 19th Knesset.

Name: Zvulun Kalfa
Party: Bayit Yehudi
Age: 50
Family status: Married, father to six, grandfather to four.
Profession: Construction, local government, elected and appointed positions.

Why did you decide to enter politics?
A few friends asked me to run.

But I had already begun to think that I could make a difference on the national level.

My political home had been the National Religious Party and the National Union. Similarly, I chose Bayit Yehudi because it was an ideological party, with Jewish and religious roots. It can be a bridge between the different sectors of Israeli society.

What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
I do not have specific text of a bill, but I want to focus on improvements in education, settling the land, particularly through agriculture, and bridging societal differences.

What was your most interesting experience on the campaign trail?

There are so many stories. I enjoyed meeting people on the street and in parlor meetings, including from the Left. I was struck by how much people seemed to need and want a party like ours.

The Knesset has a record high number of women and religious people. How do you think this will effect the way it functions and the kind of changes it can bring?
 It will help strengthen the battle for social justice issues.

Do you think haredim and Arabs should do military service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
What is important is that every citizen finds a way to serve the country. It is legitimate that for a certain number of haredim, that this service would be Torah study, but it can also be IDF participation or some form of national service.

A solution has to be found that both respects Torah study and allows for haredim to be more integrated into society. But finding a solution is a long process, that can’t be imposed and can only be done through dialogue and consensus.

It is complicated to place Israeli Arabs in combat units, but there are many ways they serve their communities, or work as paramedics or firefighters.

What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel?
“Young couples should be given free land in the periphery in exchange for a time-bound agreement to live there and not to sell it. This will both provide affordable housing and develop the country’s periphery.

What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?

I believe that Area C should be annexed, as soon as possible.

I was evacuated from my home in Gush Katif and that did not bring peace, instead we have Hamastan. Do we really need another one? This is our land, we were born here.

Unfortunately, there are already two states in Israel, Tel Aviv and the periphery. We have to focus on reuniting these two areas.

Do you support the adoption of the Edmund Levy report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlement in the West Bank?
It should be passed. For the first time a professional study by experts was done, that went beyond the stigma and the myth, to properly address the issue of land status.

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