Yahad and Bayit Yehudi battle for right-wing votes

Yahad party leader Eli Yishai says his party represents a wide range of religious voters, both haredi and national-religious.

March 10, 2015 19:36
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Yahad, the hybrid party aimed at both haredi and national-religious Jews, has hit out at Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett for publicly criticizing it, and called on him to cease internal attacks within the right-wing bloc.

Yahad’s chairman, MK Eli Yishai, took to Facebook to protest comments Bennett made on the satirical Gav Ha’uma TV show in which he labeled Yahad “an unnecessary party,” implying that Bayit Yehudi already represented the views of the public whose support Yahad is seeking.

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Yishai first countered that only Yahad represented a wide range of religious voters, both haredi and national-religious, and then recalled several damaging and embarrassing Bayit Yehudi mishaps that had seen the party’s standing in polls decline significantly.

While Bayit Yehudi has lost several seats in the polls since the beginning of the campaign, Yahad has boosted its strength, especially following its unity deal with the hard-right Otzma Yehudi party, which ostensibly has picked up hard-right support from Bayit Yehudi.

“We are not preventing you from drumming up support,” Yishai wrote in response to Bennett’s comments – before going on the offensive.

“We will not agree to [measures that] harm the Torah. We will not let the status quo [on religion and state] be harmed and will amend all the terrible laws that the last government, of which you were a member, passed,” he said.

“We did not attack you for placing a candidate on your list who smokes drugs, who supports legalizing drugs,” Yishai said.\ He was referring to Yinon Magal, placed by Bennett in the sixth position on the party’s Knesset list without having to run in the party primary. Magal has acknowledged using drugs in the past.

“We didn’t attack you for your decision to remove Eli Ohana from your list, something that raised eyebrows in the Sephardi community,” Yishai continued, in reference to the damaging saga in which Bennett gave the soccer legend the 12th spot, only for him to stand down after the selection caused outrage among the party’s supporters.

“Naftali, my brother,” Yishai said, using a term the Bayit Yehudi leader has appropriated for his political rhetoric. “Yahad today is the only party of the Right. The only party on the Right that is also Torah-oriented and socially-minded. Therefore, if it is important to you that on election day the right-wing bloc will be strengthened, please show some responsibility.”

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