After months of campaigning, the Habayit Hayehudi membership drive came to an
end at midnight on Sunday, with each of the three leadership candidates certain
he brought in enough new members to guarantee his victory.
Orlev said he expects to register a total of 40,000 new members by the drive’s
close, and is confident of his victory. On Thursday he revealed in a press
conference that he had gathered nearly 30,000 paper and electronic forms from
“Members of the National Religious Party [Habayit Hayehudi’s
forebearer] feel that they must defend their ideological home, and have
expressed to me their opposition to turning the NRP into ‘Likud B,’ which is why
so many of them joined,” Orlev stated.
The veteran MK and former minister
said that Habayit Hayehudi members are sick of being presented with new,
inexperienced leadership before every election, like former party leader Effie
Eitam and current leader Science and Technology Minister Daniel
“I don’t have anything personal against them, but there are
no shortcuts in Israeli politics,” he added.
Orlev spent the last weekend
of the membership drive in religious-Zionist stronghold Givat Shmuel, giving a
sermon in one of the town’s synagogues.
However, Orlev’s office insisted
that he only spoke about Torah, not the campaign.
candidate Naftali Bennett and his campaign’s volunteers spent Saturday night
calling those who signed up through his website and trying to recruit new
According to Bennett’s office, over 1,000 new members signed up
on Saturday night, and an additional 1,500 expressed interest. Bennett’s
campaign filmed the effort, including a phone conversation in English with an
immigrant from the US who registered for the party.
volunteers for Bennett visited synagogues during Saturday night’s traditional,
pre-Rosh Hashana slihot prayers and registered more members there. Bennett chose
the same location as Orlev – Givat Shmuel – to make a personal appearance and
attempt to recruit potential voters.
“I remember seven years ago, after
the destruction of Gush Katif, we found ourselves alone. We didn’t understand
how the nation disengaged from us, how we disengaged from the nation,” Bennett
said on Sunday. “We educated our children to give everything for Israel, sent
them to the army, national service and continual contribution, and closed our
eyes to what happened around us,” he continued.
“Today, we are a minor
political force, and no one counts us, because we do not have the numbers in the
Bennett added that his campaign decided to start a
revolution, help Habayit Hayehudi grow and open the eyes of religious-Zionists
so they can be responsible for their own fate.
estimates that it gathered 21,000-22,000 membership forms in the past few
The science and technology minister registered 9,000 new members
in Tel Aviv alone, particularly in southern Tel Aviv. Herschkowitz also focused
on the large, traditional communities in periphery towns like Netivot and
On Saturday night, the Habayit Hayehudi leader began the final
push before the end of the membership drive, giving a speech in his hometown of
Haifa before slihot prayers Saturday night.
On Sunday, he laid a
cornerstone marking the start of construction on religious youth movement Bnei
Akiva’s new headquarters in Jerusalem.
“There is a surprising awakening
amount of voters, and our numbers are higher than we expected, Herschkowitz told
The Jerusalem Post on Sunday. “I meet with different communities every day,
starting early in the morning until late at night, and I have a good
Herschkowitz has also been overtly campaigning against Bennett,
saying that “a vote for Bennett is a vote for Habayit Hayehudi to be in the
According to the minister, Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu’s Office and Bennett himself have indicated that Bennett, a former
adviser to Netanyahu, has burned bridges with the prime minister.
Bennett leads our party, we could end up in the opposition [and not the
coalition], and that would make us worth nothing, meaningless,” Herschkowitz
The party is scheduled to hold its primary election on November