(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The Tekuma central committee voted late Saturday night to stay on Bayit Yehudi’s Knesset list after weeks of deliberation.
The decision was moved to the central committee after the Tekuma’s MKs – Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, Orit Struck and Zvulun Kalfa – deferred to the party’s rabbis, who could not reach a consensus either on Thursday night.
Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, one of the rabbis with the greatest influence on the party, advocated joining former Shas leader Eli Yishai’s Ha’am Itanu list. Sources close to Ariel said the cabinet minister preferred that option, as well. However, the central committee was thought to favor staying in Bayit Yehudi.
A source close to the deliberations said Ariel sought more control, which he would likely have had on Yishai’s list, even though Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett promised to make Ariel a minister if the party joins in the next government.
Tekuma is more rabbinically- oriented than Bayit Yehudi.
Last week, Bennett’s camp proposed that Tekuma receive four of the first 20 slots on a joint list. Tekuma currently has four MKs, but Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan chose to run in the Bayit Yehudi primary. In addition, Ariel would get the second ministerial slot if the party is part of the next coalition.
Rabbi Haim Druckman, a senior national-religious figure and head of the Bnei Akiva yeshivas, penned a letter to the Tekuma central committee members asking them to keep the religious-Zionist camp united and run with Bayit Yehudi.
“The value of running on one list is immeasurable, both on principle and practically, for preserving Israel as a Jewish state, from a religious and a nationalist standpoint,” Druckman wrote. “There is a great responsibility on your shoulders. Be strong and courageous, and God will bless you!”