Betzalel Smotrich (L) and Michael Ben-Ari (R).
(photo credit: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS & MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Otzma Yehudit will not be sending delegates to Israel’s national institutions, which work to advance Israel-Diaspora ties, according to their agreement with Bayit Yehudi and National Union that was released on Tuesday.
Israel’s Zionist political parties send delegations to the Zionist Congress, which determines the leadership of the national institutions. These institutions are the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish Agency, Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael and United Israel Appeal, which were established by the Zionist movement to bring about a Jewish State and now work in areas such as aliyah, building communal institutions in Israel and the Diaspora, Zionist education, rescuing endangered Jews, fundraising, Israel advocacy and more.
Otzma Yehudit, National Union and Bayit Yehudi – which are now known as the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) – “agreed that the delegations to which Otzma Yehudit has a right to send to the national institutions will be appointed by the National Union at Otzma Yehudit’s expense.”
The 11-page agreement was made public after the Central Elections Committee chairman Justice Hanan Melcer ordered all parties running in the election to publicize any agreements made between them ahead of the April ninth election.
This condition of the URP’s founding came to light as Diaspora organizations across the Jewish religious and political spectrum came out against the party, which is led by students of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from running for Knesset due to racial incitement.
Among the organizations condemning the move were AIPAC, the American Jewish Committee, the Anti-Defamation League, the New Israel Fund, the Union of Reform Judaism, the Rabbinical Assembly of the Conservative Movement and the Torat Chayim international association of Modern Orthodox Zionist rabbis.
“Racism and hatred are antithetical to our Jewish values and the ideals on which the Jewish State of Israel was founded,” the Rabbinical Assembly said.
When URP’s parties merged, its leaders said that they were in a “technical bloc” and that Otzma would break off after the election and work independently in the Knesset. This was written in the agreement as well.
Notably, the agreement also says that Bayit Yehudi-National Union would work to have an Otzma representative chosen as the opposition MK on the Judicial Selection Committee.
The representatives to the committee are elected by the Knesset, and the URP agreement is not binding to other parties. Therefore, it is unclear whether they would attain the necessary majority to bring their efforts to fruition.
In the last Knesset, MK Robert Ilatov of Yisrael Beytenu was the opposition representative of choosing judges, such that all the politicians on the committee were right-wing.
The parties also plan to have separate election campaigns, but Otzma’s messages must be coordinated with the other parties.
The other parties’ agreements, such as the Blue and White Party, made up of Israel Resilience, Yesh Atid and Telem, were technical and involved matters like campaign funding and the way the seats on the shared list are divided between the parties.
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