Religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi and far-right Otzma Yehudit to run together

The leaders of the two groups revealed the decision in a joint statement, inviting National Union leader and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich to join the list.

Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben Gvir. (photo credit: MAARIV)
Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben Gvir.
(photo credit: MAARIV)
The Religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi and the far-right extremist Otzma Yehudit parties announced on Friday that they would run together in the upcoming election on March 2.
The leaders of the two groups, Education Minister Rafi Peretz and Itamar Ben-Gvir, revealed the decision in a joint statement, inviting National Union leader and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich to join the list.
“The upcoming elections will be crucial to the future of the State of Israel and the right-wing camp in particular. The public is tired of struggles and disputes, and wants unity in religious Zionism and the right-wing camp: not uniformity, but unity,” the statement read.
“The way to save the right-wing government is uniting all parties to the right of the Likud. We must not find ourselves in a situation where one of the parties does not pass the electoral threshold and as a result, thousands of right-wing votes are thrown away,” it added.

The two parties, together with the National Union, ran together last April, after a deal brokered by Likud leader and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to avoid the dispersion of votes backing forces that would support a right-wing government.
The move was considered controversial and sparked outrage among many, including in the religious-Zionist community, because of Otzma’s extreme positions.
Otzma is led by disciples of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from running for the Knesset due to racist incitement.
Ahead of the April elections, the party platform seemed to refer to the Arab and Palestinian population in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza as “enemies of Israel,” stating that “the war against the enemies of Israel will be total, without negotiations, without concessions and without compromises.
“Otzma Yehudit will work to remove the enemies of Israel from our country. A national authority for encouraging emigration will be established. The Jewish People returned to Zion, and the enemies of Israel will return to their countries of origin,” the platform stated, among others.
According to the agreement reached between the two parties, Bayit Yehudi will choose numbers 1, 4, and 7 on the list, Otzma will choose 3, 6 and 9, and spots 2, 5 and 8 would be for the National Union if it decides to join.
In April, the list won five seats.
In the September election, Bayit Yehudi and the National Union ran with the New Right Party led by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennett. That Yamina list won a total of seven seats. Otzma Yehudit ran by itself and did not pass the electoral threshold.
The announcement that Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit were joining forces again sparked a new wave of criticism.
“The Kahane legacy is alive and well, and on its way into the Israeli Knesset only because of Netanyahu’s legal situation.  The coming election represents a decisive moment: a messianic and racist immunity government or a national reconciliation government,” Blue and White said in a statement.
“The decision by Jewish Home to run with the racist, anti-Jewish  ‘Otzma Yehudit’ is a disgrace to religious Zionism. Bayit Yehudi has lost the right to talk about Jewish values,” Blue and White No. 2 Yair Lapid added.
Outrage was expressed also by Democratic Camp leader Nitzan Horowitz.