National Union members with Rabbi Druckman, Saturday December 29 2018.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Members of the National Union party, which ran in previous election cycles as part of Habayit Hayehudi, met for an emergency meeting on Saturday night after Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked announced their departure from the party to form a new secular-religious party.
National Union chairman Uri Ariel published a photo of the remaining members of the 8-seat party meeting with Rabbi Haim Druckman, a spiritual leader of the national-religious faction, to establish a strategy for the upcoming elections.
"We decided to continue to strengthen religious Zionism together, to continue talks and accelerate our unification, in order to win in the next elections as a united right-wing party with a strong religious Zionist leadership," Ariel wrote.
"We will continue to lead [the party] to great achievements and properly represent the national-religious public," he added.
MKs Bezalel Smotritz, Nissan Slomiansky, Eli Ben Dahan and Moti Yogev all attended the meeting.
MK Shuli Mualem will be leaving the party to join Bennett and Shaked.
The National Union is facing primaries in January, with Smotrich challenging Ariel for the top seat.
“I will take it upon myself to lead the religious Zionists if Bennett and Shaked want to lead the state,” Smotrich said shortly after Bennett and Shaked's announcement.
In a sign that Smotrich could win National Union elections, the 120-member central committee, who elect the leader of the party, also voted in favor of his recommendation to run with Habayit Hayehudi in the 2015 race and against Ariel’s recommendation to run with former Shas chairman Eli Yishai’s Yahad party.
Habayit Hayehudi will choose its Knesset candidates in a primary election among its 30,000 members during the first week of February.Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.
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