(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Habayit Hayehudi’s Membership Drive and Election Committee is expected to meet
next month to approve a proposal by MK Zevulun Orlev to conditionally reserve
the fifth slot on the party’s next Knesset candidates list for an
The move is expected to be supported by Orlev’s two
competitors in Habayit Hayehudi’s November 6 leadership primary, Science and
Technology Minister (and current party chairman) Daniel Herschkowitz and former
Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip
director-general Naftali Bennett.
Orlev proposed the initiative in an
effort to woo thousands of native English-speakers eligible to vote in the
There currently are no Russian or Ethiopian immigrants running
for Knesset slots with Habayit Hayehudi. But two American immigrants are
running: Jeremy Gimpel, who made aliya from Atlanta, and native Texan Ari
“The time has come for there to be a representative from
English-speaking countries in the Knesset,” Orlev said.
depends on more Jews making aliya from Western countries. It is unacceptable for
a Zionist party like ours to not take steps to ensure that immigrants from
Western countries have representation in the next Knesset.”
has close ties with Diaspora Jewish leaders due to his role as co-president of
World Mizrachi, thanked Gimpel for pointing out the need for an immigrant from
an English- speaking country in the Knesset. Gimpel said he was extremely happy
about the move.
“Habayit Hayehudi represents religious Zionism in
Israel,” he said. “Is there anything more Zionist than making aliya? The
English-speaking community in Israel has a particularly powerful message as we,
unlike other immigrants, chose aliya. That Zionist message until now has had no
representation in the Knesset. We are thrilled with the initiative and believe
it will strengthen the party.”
Orlev asked Membership Drive and Election
Committee chairman Danny Tropper to convene the committee to change the party’s
bylaws, which currently require that the fourth slot on the list be reserved for
a woman and the fifth for a young candidate.
According to the current
rules, if the women’s slot is won by a candidate who is also young, such as My
Israel movement head Ayelet Shaked, the fifth slot would be open to
Orlev’s proposal would make the slot go to an immigrant in such a
Tropper, who is a native New Yorker, expressed doubt that his
committee would approve any new reserved slots. He said there have been
proposals to reserve slots for a Sephardi candidate and other
“It is late to make changes at this point,” Tropper said. “Any
changes we make now would create a feeling of zigzagging.
is controversial and requires a great deal of thought.”
Orlev in Habayit Hayehudi mocked him for skipping a debate of leadership
candidates hosted by Abramowitz and Gimpel in Jerusalem last month. Orlev’s
critics said that if he cared so much about the English-speaking vote, he should
have joined Bennett and Herschkowitz at the event.
It is possible that
Gimpel and Abramowitz could win high slots on Habayit Hayehudi’s Knesset slate
even without reserved slots. They have signed up thousands of new members in the
party’s registration drive, including more than 100 who have left the
In an effort to persuade more Likudniks to return to the former
National Religious Party, Gimpel challenged Moshe Feiglin, the head of the
Likud’s Manhigut Yehudit movement, to a debate. Feiglin responded by agreeing on
the condition that the debate be against Bennett, so it would be at the level of
people who have run for chairman of their party.
Bennett said he would
make a decision next week when he convenes the heads of his campaign.
he is expected to turn down the offer and decide to instead challenge the
elected leaders of other parties to a debate if he wins the leadership of