(photo credit: REUTERS)
Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi Party will make it easier than ever for people to join the party and select its candidates for the next Knesset on Sunday, when it kicks off a membership drive that will be open to any citizen aged 17 and above.
In a first for a party membership drive in Israel, the campaign will be conducted exclusively online and the NIS 39 membership fee can only be paid by credit card. Those who join will be eligible to vote for the Knesset list in a primary that will take place January 14.
Party officials said the goal of holding the two-week drive online was not only simplifying the membership process, but also preventing voter fraud. In the party’s last membership drive, vote contractors submitted 1,000 membership forms, many of whom were paid in cash.
“The rise in support for the party justifiably led to requests to open the party’s ranks to a wider public that wants to have influence in the party,” said Bayit Yehudi manager Nir Orbach. “It is also important to open the party to people who were too young last time.”
Orbach said the party’s slogan would be “a large ‘Jewish home’ [Bayit Yehudi’s meaning] is needed against all the Left.” The slogan is copied from the slogan of the Likud in the 1992 election.
“We have opened up the party to everyone,” Bayit Yehudi English Speakers Forum chairman Jeremy Saltan said.
This is the time to join the fastest- growing party in Israel and choose our next Knesset list. I call on all western immigrants to join the only party promoting accountability, representation, and transparency.”
A deal is expected to be completed soon with the National Union Party, which will be given reserved slots on the Bayit Yehudi list, and not have to run in the primary.
Several well-known new candidates intend to run in the Bayit Yehudi primary, including former IDF chief rabbi Avichai Ronsky, journalist Sofia- Ron Moria, and the vice president of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, Yigal Dilmoni.
Dilmoni, who has been an advocate of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria for two decades, announced his decision Tuesday.
“I have spent over 20 years working on behalf of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria on the ground. I feel that now is the time to work from within the government alongside my old friend and former colleague Naftali Bennett,” he said.
Dilmoni, 44, is the father of five and resident of the Samarian community of Avnei Chefetz. He has worked for the council since 2010, when he began as deputy to the then CEO, Bennett.