Setback for Bennett in Jerusalem race

Bayit Yehudi leader suffers political blow when Tel Aviv District Court judge issues injunction against his list of candidates for J'lem.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 26, 2013 18:21
1 minute read.
Naftali Bennett at a Bayit Yehudi faction meeting, February 18, 2013.

Naftali Bennett at a Bayit Yehudi faction meeting 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

 
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Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett suffered a political blow on Monday when Tel Aviv District Court Judge Dafna Avnieli issued an injunction against the list of candidates for the Jerusalem city council that Bennett drafted.

Bennett, together with Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, together agreed that the Bayit Yehudi list in the October 22 election would be headed by accountant Dov Kalmanovich, a victim of the first intifada, and city council member Herzl Yehezkel.

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The heads of Bayit Yehudi’s Jerusalem branch took the party to court, saying that the branch’s governing council had the right to select the candidates and not Bennett. Avnieli issued the injunction until another court date in two weeks in which the court will decide which list is legal: The one composed by Bennett or another elected by the branch council.

The branch council’s list is headed by former Social Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev, Bennett’s political enemy, who ran against him for party leader. If allowed to run, Orlev is expected to try to use the city council as a springboard to return to the national leadership of Bayit Yehudi.

“We will definitely win when we go back to court,” said Jerusalem branch council head Itzik Moshe. “Bennett’s list was not chosen democratically. The party constitution says we have a right to choose the candidates, not Bennett.”

Another opponent went further, saying that the minister does not understand how parties work and does not want to understand. He said that the politician “does not believe in democracy” and that the court had “put him in his place.”

A source close to him responded that the court’s decision was a mere procedural matter. The source said that out of 80 municipalities in which Bayit Yehudi is running, Bennett had taken control of many without a fight. He said the minister had only been challenged in four places, and the only one left in which there was still a fight was Jerusalem.

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