Rabbi Rafi Peretz, the recently elected chairman of the Bayit Yehudi party.
(photo credit: BAYIT YEHUDI)
The Bayit Yehudi central committee voted on Wednesday not to hold leadership elections, keeping current chairman MK Rabbi Rafi Peretz in position.
The central committee also voted to preserve its electoral list from the last elections, and that unity agreements with other parties could be approved within 48 hours.
According to a statement from the party, the decisions were taken with “decisive majorities.”
The first five candidates on Bayit Yehudi’s electoral list for the 22nd Knesset are therefore Peretz, Moti Yogev, Idit Silman, Eli Ben Dahan and Davidi Ben Tzion.
The party is likely to unite with the National Union, as it has done for the last three elections, and this joint list could itself merge with the far right Otzma Yehudit party, as it did in the last election in the United Right Wing Parties list.
The New Right party formed ahead of the last election by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked could also join the URP, or a different configuration of those parties.
Speaking at the Bayit Yehudi convention on Wednesday night, Peretz called for electoral unity amongst the parties of the religious right and said he would be embarking immediately on efforts to realize this goal.
“I say to you tonight in a clear manner that we will make every effort so that [the parties of] religious-Zionism will not be divided again,” said Peretz.
“Tonight, Bayit Yehudi led by me is calling for unity among the ranks out of a desire to form a strong and stable right-wing government… We are starting a campaign for unity and unification We will carry the stretcher together which will bring religious-Zionism to unity on the way to its goal of 12 seats.”
Despite Peretz’s words, rumblings of discontent have been made by Otzma Yehudit, which complained on Wednesday that Peretz was not keeping to the terms of the unity agreement, whereby party ministers should resign as MKs to allow candidates lower down the URP list to enter the Knesset.
The next candidate on URP’s list who would enter Knesset is Itamar Ben Gvir of Otzma Yehudit.
Peretz and National Union leader Betzalel Smotrich were appointed on Monday as education and transportation ministers respectively, yet neither has resigned as a MK.
Otzma said Wednesday night that while Smotrich had begun examining the legal possibilities for him to resign, Peretz had ignored Otzma’s request.
A statement to the press issued by Otzma said that “senior figures” in the party were becoming “disappointed” with Peretz because of his conduct in the matter.
“We lay down for him on the fence. Because of us, he entered the Knesset as he himself has testified. And for these reasons, we expect from him to be satisfied with the education portfolio, a most important position, and allow Itamar Ben Gvir to be an MK,” said the Otzma party statement.
The URP garnered just 160,000 votes, of which several tens of thousands likely came from Otzma voters, meaning the party would not have made it into the Knesset without the votes for the far-right party.
“This is not good manners and is not the path of religious-Zionism,” grumbled Otzma.
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