Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and Bezalel Smotrich.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The National Union will vote for its leader on Monday night, with freshman lawmaker Bezalel Smotrich competing against two-term leader Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel.
The far Right party, which ran with the Bayit Yehudi list in the last election, is set to hold a vote among its 130 central committee members at a meeting in Jerusalem for its leader and its list for the next Knesset.
Smotrich made a name for himself with his outspoken hawkish, pro-settlement positions over the past four years, and has been an active and effective lawmaker. He received a lot of negative attention from the Left, which served to boost his standing on the far Right.
In a poll conducted for the New Right, the party founded by Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked when they broke off from Bayit Yehudi, found that the remainder of the Bayit Yehudi-National Union bloc would get an additional two to three seats with Smotrich at the helm.
Smotrich has his own plans to try to lead the bloc. If he wins, party insiders expect him to first try to unite with the extremist Otzma Yehudit list, led by Hebron activist Baruch Marzel, the former right-hand man of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who was banned from running for the Knesset due to his racist incitement. Otzma is said to be receptive to the idea. Then, he could negotiate to lead Bayit Yehudi with greater leverage.
Meanwhile, Ariel tried to stay in the headlines, demanding on Sunday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fire Bennett and Shaked, Hadashot reported.
The ministers’ portfolios come from a coalition agreement with the Bayit Yehudi list and not with them personally. Previously, only MK Moti Yogev supported firing Shaked and Bennett, while the other two MKs from the party opposed the idea.
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