(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Veteran MK Zevulun Orlev surprised the national-religious establishment
Wednesday when he announced that he would not run for his fourth term in the
Knesset if he does not win the September 4 race for head of Habayit Hayehudi
against incumbent Daniel Herschkowitz.
“If I am not elected to the
leadership, I will find ways to contribute but not in the Knesset,” Orlev said
at at Knesset press conference, in which he criticized Herschkowitz and former
National Religious Party head Effi Eitam.
“Over the past few years, there
is a feeling that we became addicted to finding stars to head our list of
candidates,” Orlev said. “There is nothing wrong with adding new people to the
list. But parachuting new leaders every time brings the party down. A party is
not a reality show, where the next pretty face wins. It must be connected to our
values and roots.”
Herschkowitz responded by mocking Orlev, suggesting
that his rival’s entire press conference could be summarized with a headline
that Orlev would not be in the next Knesset.
Orlev was first elected to
the Knesset in 1999. He served as social affairs minister from 2003 to 2004 and
is a former director-general of the Education Ministry and the Religious
Habayit Hayehudi will run together with the National
Union in the next election. While National Union leader Ya’acov Katz said
he expects to lead the list, Orlev said that since the Habayit Hayehudi will be
elected in a primary and the National Union chairman is chosen by rabbis, it
makes sense that the Habayit Hayehudi chairman will head the joint
Orlev said he hoped former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea
and Samaria director- general Naftali Bennett would decide to run for Knesset
with Habayit Hayehudi. He also expressed interest in running together with MK
Haim Amsalem, who left Shas and formed a party called Am Shalem.
who agrees with the religious Zionist outlook can be part of our list,” he
said. “Rabbi Amsalem has expressed views over the past two years that fit
the values of religious Zionism.”