Far right party says siphoning Bayit Yehudi members after Amona evacuation

"Bayit Yehudi activists are saying it has become the old National Religious Party that cared more about cabinet seats than the land. They regret voting for him..."

February 6, 2017 04:58
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The far-right Yahad Party that fell just short of making the last Knesset has seen a major rise in activists joining and volunteering with the party following Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett’s support for last week’s Amona evacuation, Yahad leaders said on Sunday.

The Amona evacuation was the first time that Bennett actively supported removing Jews from their homes after promising when he entered politics that he would oppose such moves. He blamed the evacuation on the High Court, which demanded it for legal reasons. But Yahad heads said right-wingers would not give Bennett a second chance.

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“There is great disappointment, and I am sure it will be expressed at the moment of truth,” said Baruch Marzel, who was fourth on the party’s candidates list in the last election. “Bayit Yehudi activists are coming to us and saying it has become the old National Religious Party that cared more about cabinet seats than the land. They regret voting for him, and they are coming to us.”

Yahad is conducting a membership drive online and via volunteers on the street. The party intends to build an English website soon.

Marzel said he was sure there would be a party to the right of Bayit Yehudi in the next Knesset, but said he did not know what it would look like. In the last election, Yahad was headed by former Shas chairman Eli Yishai, who is being wooed by the Likud.

“We are in contact with Eli Yishai, who has more options than we do,” Marzel said. “We see it as a compliment that we aren’t wanted in the Likud, just like we are unwanted in Meretz. They’re both left-wing parties whose leaders back forming a Palestinian state.”

One of the founders of Yahad, Itamar Ben-Gvir, suggested that Bennett might have enabled the Amona evacuation on purpose, because moving to the Center could help him succeed Benjamin Netanyahu.

“He is doing it on purpose,” Ben-Gvir said. “He wants to be prime minister. He wants to run in the big leagues. He is not a fool. He is doing it to get votes from the Center.”

In weekend interviews, Yishai blamed the evacuation on Shas leader Arye Deri. Yishai said Deri was a left-winger who did not care about the Land of Israel. He said had he entered the Knesset and the coalition, his party would have quit the government over the Amona evacuation.

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