Economy Minister Naftali Bennett speaks at INSS in Tel Aviv, Dec. 18, 2014.
(photo credit: BAYIT YEHUDI SPOKESMAN)
Tekuma’s central committee voted to run on Bayit Yehudi’s list for the Knesset late Saturday night, after weeks of deliberation.
The more conservative religious- Zionist party, which used to be part of the National Union and ran with Bayit Yehudi in the last Knesset, will hold the second, ninth, 14th and 18th places on the joint list while remaining a separate party. Construction Minister Uri Ariel will have the second slot and second ministerial position.
Ariel and Tekuma’s rabbis leaned toward joining former Shas leader Eli Yishai’s new Yahad Ha’am Itanu party, and Tekuma’s MKs presented divergent views on where the party should go, with Zevulun Kalfa favoring Yishai’s list and Orit Struck preferring Bayit Yehudi.
Struck would not be able to run on Yishai’s list, which will not include women.
The central committee sided with Struck, and Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, who has long advised the party, is expected to move to either Yahad Ha’am Itanu or Otzma Layehudim.
“I believe we will all mobilize to reach the best results for the whole Right and the good of Bayit Yehudi,” Ariel stated.
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett commended the Tekuma central committee for its decision.
“We are greater together than apart and we have great tasks ahead of us,” he said.
“The Land of Israel, its character and its security are at stake, and only together can we withstand those missions and lead the people of Israel.”
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan, who is a Tekuma MK but is now running in the Bayit Yehudi primary, said he is happy with the final decision.
“Because of this unity, the [religious-Zionist] public, with God’s help, will stay united and big and succeed in dealing with the coming challenges in the next Knesset, to keep the land united and protect the State of Israel’s Jewish identity and the status quo on religion and state,” he added.
Yishai said that despite Tekuma’s decision, many rabbis back him and the nation is with him – which is the meaning of his party’s name, Ha’am Itanu.
“We are starting on a new path, empowered with great excitement and happiness,” he told Army Radio.
MK Yoni Chetboun, who left Bayit Yehudi to join Yishai’s list, said he accepts the decision but does not regret it, and said his new party will unite religious, traditional and haredi, Sephardi and Ashkenazi under the values of the Torah and Jewish tradition, while helping the weaker sectors.