MK Orit Struck, Bayit Yehudi candidate Yifat Ehrlich, National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich, Bayit Yehudi chairman Raffi Peretz and Bayit Yehudi CEO Nir Orbacha.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Bayit Yehudi’s top female candidate, journalist Yifat Ehrlich, left the party on Thursday, a day after it agreed to run on a shared list with extreme-right party Otzma Yehudit.
Ehrlich voiced strong opposition to the union, saying that “our base is not there.” She argued on her Facebook page that “polls are being used to manipulate the public” and said that the move will send Bayit Yehudi voters to choose the New Right instead.
Ehrlich was appointed to third place in Bayit Yehudi last week, bringing her to seventh on the list after its union with National Union and the addition of two Otzma candidates.
A source in the party said that Ehrlich had been asked to leave because she was too demanding beyond her opposition to the shared list, and had asked for final approval of campaign materials.
Bayit Yehudi activist Idit Silman was chosen to replace Ehrlich.
Otzma Yehudit confirmed its representatives to the list, saying that former MK Michael Ben-Ari will be in fifth place and far-right activist and attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir will be in eighth.
Polling has been showing that Ben-Ari is likely to become an MK. However, Ben-Gvir could easily end up in the Knesset, because the agreement between Bayit Yehudi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who pressured the party to unite with Otzma, includes expanding the “Norwegian Law,” so that all ministers can quit the Knesset to allow for more active lawmakers, but get their seat back if they leave the government.
Otzma is led by students of Rabbi Meir Kahane, including Ben-Ari; Hebron activist Baruch Marzel; Benzi Gopstein, who leads an organization that opposes Jewish-Muslim marriages; and Ben-Gvir. Kahane was elected to the Knesset in the 1980s and subsequently banned on grounds of racist incitement; Marzel was his parliamentary aide.
Netanyahu pushed for the parties to run on one list, arguing that polls show it will add two to three more votes to the right-wing bloc, and promised Bayit Yehudi and National Union two cabinet seats in exchange for the deal.
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