(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s opponents in the party succeeded Tuesday in obtaining enough support to force a secret-ballot vote in Wednesday’s party convention on a controversial new party constitution.
The charter would give Bennett unprecedented power in the party’s institutions and enable him to hand pick three candidates in realistic slots for the next Knesset.
For the first time ever, the former National Religious Party’s constitution will make reference to the possibility of its leader forming a government, giving him the right to select the party’s ministers.
Opponents of the constitution warned it would enable Bennett to control the party like a “dictator.”
They warned that in his quest to become prime minister, he was sacrificing the party’s national religious, modern Orthodox roots.
“We love Bayit Yehudi, which is our great hope to raise the banner of building the nation, and that’s why we’re so worried and why we’re crying and praying,” said Rabbi Shlomo Aviner. “God, please protect Bayit Yehudi from political tricks and save it from its strategy of hiding the full picture from rabbis who realize too late they fell asleep at the wheel.”
The 1,180 central committee members will be eligible to vote at Tel Aviv University on the constitutions and dozens of amendments.
Opponents of the constitution succeeded in drafting the 200 signatures of central committee members required to force secret ballot votes that could make it harder for Bennett to pass it.
The constitution’s critics will ask a district court judge in Lod Wednesday to prevent the convention from taking place due to irregularities in its planning.
Bennett succeeded this week in obtaining key endorsements for the constitution from Knesset Finance Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky, who is powerful in the central committee, and from former National Religious Party MK Haim Druckman.
“We know we will pass the constitution by a wide margin, so our only fear is complacency,” a source close to Bennett said.
Justice Minister Tzipi Livni rejected criticism from Bennett who said Monday that those pushing for a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria were locked into a “failed conception” as dangerous for Israel now as was the ‘failed conception” that led to the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
She said those who say there is no solution and are not prepared to give up parts of Israel are preventing the next generation a chance to live peacefully.
“Settlements do not bring security to Israel,” she told Israel Radio. “They harm future generations of Israelis.”