Rabbis hats are silhouetted against the sky as they gather to pose for a group photo in front of the Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in the Brooklyn borough of New York, U.S., November 4, 2018..
(photo credit: MARK KAUZLARICH/REUTERS)
Senior rabbis in the conservative wing of the National-Religious movement have instructed the political leadership of the two mainstream National-Religious parties Bayit Yehudi and National Union to run together on a joint electoral list in the upcoming elections.
The two parties have run together in the last two elections but negotiations between Bayit Yehudi chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz and National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich to run a joint electoral list once again for the elections in April broke down over the weekend.
It is feared that without uniting the parties, neither will cross the electoral threshold.
Following a meeting in Jerusalem on Monday, Rabbis Eli Sadan, Zalman Melamed and Tsfaniah Drori, among others, issued a statement saying that they were instructing the two party leaders to run together.
“The conference of rabbis calls and demands from the heads of Bayit Yehudi and National Union, the honorable Rabbi Rafi Peretz and MK Bezalel Smotrich, to announce and declare the union of the two parties ahead of the coming elections, because we are brothers,” the rabbis announced.
They added, in less demanding terms, that “other parties close to the great spirit” of the national-religious movement, likely meaning the far-right Otzmah Yehudit party and possibly Eli Yishai’s Yahad party, should be added as well.
They also added a call “to the entire National-Religious community and to all those who walk in the path of religious-Zionism to return home and give your strength to this united party,” a reference to voters who may vote for the New Right party set up by former Bayit Yehudi leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, as well as to other national-religious voters who may vote for Likud or other parties on the political right.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu weighed in on the issue of political unity in the national-religious community as well, stating that Bayit Yehudi, National Union, Otzma Yehudit
and Yahad should all unite in order to “save six or seven Knesset seats” for the right-wing bloc.
“We cannot lose these votes, because at the end it’s a left wing government or a right-wing government,” the prime minister warned.
“The splintering of the right will bring for certain defeat in the elections.”
Although negotiations broke down over the weekend, Bayit Yehudi and National Union announced on Monday that contact had been reestablished on the basis of what was agreed before the process stalled.
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