(photo credit: REUTERS)
Registration for the Bayit Yehudi primary came to an end Wednesday evening, with 42 candidates running on January 14.
The final slate of people running for a spot on the list includes 11 women, two Druse and one Arab candidate, as well as at least three who do not identify as religious.
A Bayit Yehudi spokesman said the large number of candidates reflects “great public trust in the party, because we stand up determinedly for Israel’s important interests and refuse to follow empty slogans that lead us to the abyss.”
According to the spokesman, the candidates will form a list that will help the party continue “Zionist activity combined with Jewish identity, without apologizing.”
Candidates had to gather signatures from 150 party members and pay NIS 7,000 to the party before 8 p.m. Wednesday.
On the day of the primary, Bayit Yehudi’s 77,000 members will be able to vote in 119 polling places. Each member can choose seven candidates, three with two points and four with one point.
Central committee members will also vote for one of their own to fill the 10th slot on the list, for which there are five contenders.
Party members will also vote for Bayit Yehudi chairman and choose between current leader Naftali Bennett, who is expected to win by a landslide, and Rabbi Shimon Or, head of the Torah Leadership Movement, which believes religious people should seize political control of Israel without partnering with secular people.
The primary race is expected to be very tight.
The party has been polling between 15 and 18 seats. Bennett has the first spot, followed by Construction Minister Uri Ariel, the head of Tekuma, another national-religious party running on a joint list with Bayit Yehudi, but not in its primary. The ninth, 14th and 18th spots are also saved for Tekuma, which is expected to choose on Sunday who will fill those places.
Bennett can appoint people to the third, sixth and 11th slots on the party list. One will go to journalist Yinon Magal, but sources in the party say Bennett will wait until after the primary to see if he will use the other two.
Of the candidates, 31 are men, who are competing for five realistic open spots – the fifth, seventh, 13th, 15th and 16th – and five of those men are current MKs.
The fourth, eighth, 12th and 17th spots are saved for women, and two are likely to go to MKs Ayelet Shaked and Shuli Moalem-Refaeli. Women who rank high enough in the primary not to need a gender-designated spot can fill one of the other open ones and cancel the next spot for women by ranking higher.