Bennett claims victory in internal party race

The elections took place in Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Netanya, Kiryat Motzkin and Givat Shmuel.

January 23, 2018 19:09
1 minute read.
Naftali Bennett speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, 2017.

Naftali Bennett speaks at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, 2017.. (photo credit: SIVAN FARAJ)


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Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s associates expressed satisfaction Tuesday with the results of an internal race for branch council and central committee members that was held on Monday.

The race came following a changeover in the party’s membership facilitated by it ending all of the current membership and by then conducting a new membership drive, leaving only 20% of the veteran members remaining. Thus, out of the party’s current 32,000 members, a majority are new.

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The elections took place in Jerusalem, Ra’anana, Netanya, Kiryat Motzkin and Givat Shmuel. Other cities decided their branch council and central committee members through political deals.

“Bennett’s loyalists did well,” said incumbent Mevaseret Zion branch chairman Jeremy Saltan. “The identity of the party branch leaders this time around will represent the spectrum within Israeli society that Naftali would like to see.”

Saltan cited the large number of women and secular activists elected, as well as the addition of a new branch of Druse members to the party. In Jerusalem, 48 out of the 125 people elected to the branch council were women while women were 18 out of the 39 elected in Ra’anana and to 12 out of the 27 elected in Givat Shmuel.

But Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe, who is a vocal Bennett opponent, also did well in the election. Bennett critic Avraham Cimerring said the election was not about Bennett but about local internal battles.

Saltan, who heads the party’s Anglo Forum, said some 40 of the forum’s members, from Eilat to Nahariya, were elected to the central committee and branch councils, including Pnina Solomon, who he said is expected to be elected branch chairperson in Zichron Ya’acov.

One of the Anglos elected to Bayit Yehudi central committee was Jerusalemite Josh Wander, a former Jerusalem Post online editor, Pittsburgh mayoral candidate and Pennsylvania state constable – an elected official in charge of law enforcement for the local magistrate’s courts.

Wander, who lives in Jerusalem’s Ma’aleh Zeitim neighborhood, said he wants the Israeli political system to become more like the American system. For instance, he said, he wants to have absentee balloting in internal races and for Israelis on vacation abroad to be allowed to vote for the Knesset.

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