Rabbi Dov Lior.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The prominent and influential hard-line national-religious leader Rabbi Dov Lior is set to endorse the new Yahad Party headed by MK Eli Yishai, a step that might constitute a significant electoral boon in the faction’s efforts to pass the electoral threshold.
A source close to the rabbi told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that it is likely Lior would be endorsing Yahad and that it would be done publicly in the coming days.
The source noted that Lior had been heavily involved in the negotiations between the hard-right national-religious party Otzma Yehudit and Yahad to unite the two parties’ electoral lists.
Yahad MK and Knesset candidate Yoni Chetboun had vociferously opposed the inclusion on the joint list of Otzma leader and former MK Michael Ben-Ari, since he is prominently involved in Temple Mount activism. Chetboun’s spiritual adviser, Rabbi Tzvi Tau, dean of the conservative national-religious Har Hamor Yeshiva, is vehemently opposed to Jews visiting the Temple Mount.
Lior helped bridge the gaps between the two parties and insisted that Otzma member Baruch Marzel be included on the joint list instead of Ben-Ari, a suggestion that was ultimately accepted by all sides.
In the 2013 general election, Lior endorsed Otzma, then known as Otzma Leyisrael, and the party received over 66,000 votes, shy of the 76,000 votes it needed to cross thethen 2 percent electoral threshold.
The threshold has since been raised to 3.25%, which will likely require some 100,000 to 120,000 votes, depending on voter turnout, in order to enter the Knesset.
A poll conducted by Dialog and published on Tuesday by Haaretz had Yahad cross the threshold with four seats. A Panels poll for the Knesset Channel published on Tuesday also gave Yahad four seats.
Before Yahad and Otzma united their candidates lists, Yahad was struggling to cross the electoral threshold in the majority of polls.
Otzma was not expected to pass the threshold by any poll.
On Monday night, several hundred people attended a Yahad political conference in the town of Yad Binyamin, and Yishai addressed criticism that his party was enabling radical, far-right elements to enter the Knesset.
“I was asked ‘how can you join up with Otzma Leyisrael?’... The truth is I want to unite the ranks, even it is a technical bloc,” the MK said, in reference to part of the agreement between the two parties stipulating they can split up as soon as the election is over.
“Even if there are differences of opinion, we are going forward together for the sake of the national camp.
Just because of [Balad MK] Haneen Zoabi we need Baruch Marzel to be in the Knesset,” Yishai continued.
The unity deal between Yahad and Otzma is largely seen as a marriage of convenience designed simply to guarantee that both parties cross the electoral threshold, but not indicating any confluence of policies or goals.
Yishai has said that his party would recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu be given the first choice to form a coalition after the coming election, but Otzma and Marzel are unlikely to join the next government, so it is probable that the two parties will split soon after vote.