Bayit Yehudi sees hope in Tekuma leader's exit

The religious-Zionist camp could be en route to the unity that senior figures in the sector have been seeking for decades.

August 18, 2014 20:00
2 minute read.
Naftali Bennett

Naftali Bennett. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

The religious-Zionist camp could be en route to the unity that senior figures in the sector have been seeking for decades, a Bayit Yehudi official said Monday following the departure of a key figure who was seen as preventing a deal.

Ahead of every Knesset election, there have been efforts to ensure that only one religious Zionist party will run. In last year’s election, the National Union party that ran against Bayit Yehudi in 2009 split in two, part of which ran on its own as the Strong Israel Party, which did not pass the electoral threshold.

The other part of the National Union, which calls itself Tekuma, ran together with Bayit Yehudi and elected MKs Uri Ariel, Eli Ben-Dahan, Zevulun Kalfa and Orit Struck on the joint slate. Since that election, there have been efforts to permanently bring Tekuma into Bayit Yehudi.

Those efforts can take off now that Tekuma’s veteran secretary-general Nachi Eyal quit his post last month, a Bayit Yehudi official said.

Eyal wrote Tekuma’s 25-member governing council that he was leaving after the party succeeded in electing four MKs, including a minister and a deputy minister. He said the party was also doing well on the municipal level and in its cash flow.

Ariel, who is Tekuma’s leader, wrote the council asking it to cooperate with new secretary- general Ophir Sofer toward its “common goal.”

Bayit Yehudi officials said that common goal should be unity in the religious-Zionist camp.

“We hope the process of permanently unifying the camp can be completed once and for all due to the internal political developments in Tekuma,” a Bayit Yehudi official said.

There had been tension for many years between the leadership of Bayit Yehudi and Eyal. Bayit Yehudi leaders blamed Eyal for preventing the religious-Zionist camp from running in one party in the 2009 election.

There were merger talks scheduled multiple times over the past year between Bayit Yehudi and Tekuma that never took place. Meanwhile, Bennett has taken steps inside Bayit Yehudi to adopt a constitution on its own without Tekuma’s input in a way that has angered Ariel.

Eyal said it was not his fault that merger talks have not taken place over the past year and that he did everything possible to make it happen. He stressed that he had good relations with the leaders of Bayit Yehudi.

"I was a significant figure pushing in favor of running with Bayit Yehud," Eyal said. "I advocated for it, I made it happen when it did, and I will make it happen in the future. But I do believe Tekuma has its value and should continue to exist, running together with Bayit Yehudi."

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