(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Tekuma MKs decided not to decide whether to split from Bayit Yehudi’s list and join renegade Shas MK Eli Yishai’s new Ha’am Itanu list Thursday, though sources close to the deliberations said the move was likely.
Although Tekuma leader Construction Minister Uri Ariel and Bayit Yehudi leader Economy Minister Naftali Bennett agreed on Tuesday to come to a final decision by the weekend, the former and his MKs – Zevulun Kalfa and Orit Struck – disagreed on what their next step should be.
The MKs agreed to ask rabbis who advise Tekuma what to do next. These rabbis include; Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, who advocates joining Yishai’s list; Bet El’s Zalman Melamed; Haim Steiner of the Merkaz Harav yeshiva; and David Hai Hacohen. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, another influential religious-Zionist rabbi, sided with Yishai’s party.
Another leading religious-Zionist rabbi, who is closely associated with Bayit Yehudi, pleaded with Ariel to keep the list united, but Lior, who is closer to Tekuma, insisted on the split, said a source close to the discussions.
The source added that Ariel seeks more control, which he would likely have on Yishai’s list, even though Bennett would make him a minister.
If Tekuma, the more rabbinically- oriented party in the Bayit Yehudi faction, splits the list and runs with Yishai, Struck will most likely not be allowed on the list, as Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who backs Yishai, spoke out against women running for the Knesset.
Earlier this 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 Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan chose to run in the Bayit Yehudi primary.
The fourth candidate would be someone Bennett and Ariel select together.
In addition, Ariel would be promised the joint list’s second ministerial slot if the party is part of the next coalition.