Naftali Bennett and Eli Ohana..
(photo credit: BAYIT YEHUDI SPOKESMAN)
Soccer legend Eli Ohana will run on the Bayit Yehudi list, distancing himself from past support for evacuating settlements.
Party leader Naftali Bennett announced Ohana’s addition to the list at a central committee meeting Monday night.
Ohana, the former Beitar Jerusalem soccer star, coach of the Israel national under-19 soccer team and sports announcer who was on the Belgian soccer team Mechelen when it won the 1988 European Super Cup, will be in the Bayit Yehudi list’s top 10.
Ohana has been a known Likud supporter for years and expressed unequivocal support for the Gaza disengagement and then-prime minister Ariel Sharon in a 2005 interview with Yediot Aharonot, calling him one of Israel’s best premiers ever.
“Sharon can evacuate all the settlements and it would be fine by me,” he said at the time. “We have enough territory in which to live.”
On Monday, Ohana said: “I have been a Likudnik my whole life, but I no longer believe in withdrawals.
Like the rest of Israel, I woke up and went home, to Bayit Yehudi.”
The soccer legend said he plans to help those who come from impoverished backgrounds, as he did.
Bayit Yehudi also offered Channel 2 reporter and Yediot Aharonot columnist Sivan Rahav-Meir a spot on the list, but she turned it down.
Speaking at the central committee meeting, Bennett said Bayit Yehudi will not sit in a coalition with left-wing partners.
“Two governments ago, [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu brought [Ehud] Barak, who navigated and led. After that, it was Tzipi [Livni],” Bennett recounted.
“That’s over. This time, it’s Bennett or Tzipi.”
The Bayit Yehudi central committee approved the party’s list, as well as its joint run with Tekuma, which was authorized unanimously.
The agreement between Bayit Yehudi and Tekuma requires the joint list to act as one faction in the Knesset and guarantees the leader of Tekuma, Construction Minister Uri Ariel, a portfolio of equal stature if the party enters the next coalition.
Tekuma has three realistic spots on the Bayit Yehudi list for the next Knesset.
Following the approval, Ariel said: “This is the time to increase Bayit Yehudi’s forces in the election.
With God’s help, Bayit Yehudi will grow, for the good of the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the Land of Israel.”