Habayit Hayehudi’s internal divisions deepened on Wednesday when MK Uri Orbach
endorsed former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria head Naftali
Bennett in the leadership race of the religious-Zionist party.
party’s three Knesset members now each back different candidates in the
September 4 vote. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and MK
Zevulun Orlev both back themselves, and Orbach supports Bennett.
said one of the reasons for his endorsement of Bennett was that the constant
infighting between Herschkowitz and Orlev had harmed the party. Orlev has said
that if he does not win the primary, he would quit politics.
But the main
reason Orbach said he supported Bennett was that he was impressed by the
40-year-old hi-tech millionaire and former adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and that he believed the party needed younger leadership.
need to skip a generation,” Orbach said. “Naftali has accomplished a lot at a
young age, which has made him ready to lead religious Zionism. Putting him at
the top of the list would help persuade the young generation that they should be
led by someone religious Zionist.”
Orbach revealed that he had tried for
months to persuade Bennett to run with Habayit Hayehudi and not form a new
party. Orbach wants Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union to run together in
the next election, ideally under the leadership of Bennett.
Union leadership does not have a problem with Bennett like they have with our
other candidates,” Orbach said. “His views are between the two parties, and that
is where most of religious Zionism is today.”
Orbach said he also liked
the fact that Bennett, who lives in Ra’anana, is a native English speaker. He
said this would allow Habayit Hayehudi to reach out to immigrants to Israel from
English speaking countries in a way that the party and its forerunner, the
National Religious Party, had not in the past.
Bennett wrote on Facebook
he was thankful for Orbach’s support and that it was a step on the way to