(photo credit: JACK GUEZ / AFP)
Education Minister Naftali Bennett’s powers as Bayit Yehudi leader will be watered down, according to the party’s new constitution, which was published over the weekend.
The constitution, which was drafted by a committee led by former National Religious Party head Yitzhak Levy, will come to a vote at a meeting of the Bayit Yehudi central committee on April 5 in Yad Binyamin. If the constitution is approved, an election would then be held in the committee for new members of party institutions that were bolstered at Bennett’s expense.
The changes happened following demands from party activists that Bennett be punished for leading Bayit Yehudi from 12 seats to eight in last year’s elections. Bennett’s opponents in the party demanded more far-reaching punishments but were forced to compromise.
“I welcome these changes, which will make the party stronger,” Bennett said.
Bennett’s power to select his own candidates for the party’s Knesset list was halved. While in the last election, he had the right to pick one of every five candidates, this time he will only get to choose one of each 10.
Ahead of the last election, Bennett reserved a spot for journalist Yinon Magal, who resigned due to sexual harassment allegations, and soccer star Eli Ohana, who ended up not running, because of an outcry against him within the party. Former settler leader Danny Dayan rejected Bennett’s offer of a reserved slot, because it was too low on the list.
The constitution empowers Bayit Yehudi central committee members to run for two of the party’s top 15 slots on its Knesset slate, as opposed to one the last time. It would become easier for central committee members to convene and pass resolutions Bennett opposes.
There will be fewer Bennett appointees on Bayit Yehudi’s executive board and presidium.
The Bayit Yehudi faction was also empowered more by the new constitution. While in the past, Bennett decided on his own whether to leave a coalition, now it is the faction that will decide.
Many of those demanding the changes were former allies of former Bayit Yehudi leader Zevulun Orlev. Despite the changes, Bennett will still have more powers than Orlev did.
“His powers will be less than what was approved ahead of the last election, but it could have been a lot worse for him,” a party activist loyal to Bennett said.