URP leaders call for right-wing unity after Yogev-Bennett war of words

A source in New Right told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that it was “99% certain” that New Right would run together with another party.

June 13, 2019 04:20
3 minute read.
Naftali Bennett (L) and Motti Yogev (R)

Naftali Bennett (L) and Motti Yogev (R). (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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In a blistering attack Wednesday on New Right leader Naftali Bennett, MK Moti Yogev of the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP) said that the party should not allow Bennett be part of a union between URP and the New Right, saying that Bennett had “betrayed” the national-religious movement.

Yogev’s comments come amidst strained relationships within the national-religious political arena and, at the same time, the hope within the sector that all of the separate parties will manage to unite in one technical bloc to prevent right-wing votes being lost as occurred in the April 9 election.

A source in New Right told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday that it was “99% certain” that New Right would run together with another party but that no decision has yet been made as to which party it would be best to join in a technical bloc.

The source added that it was also not clear who would head the New Right, current leader Naftali Bennett or Ayelet Shaked with whom Bennett split from Bayit Yehudi to form New Right in December last year.

Yogev’s acerbic comments on Wednesday further strained ties between New Right and URP.

“Bennett betrayed us, I don’t think that it is fitting for us to take someone in who disregarded us,” said Yogev on the Galei Yisrael radio station regarding Bennett’s creation of New Right and the votes he took from the party which were ultimately wasted after New Right failed to cross the 3.25% electoral threshold.

“I recommend more humility for everyone. It is clear that [MK] Rafi Peretz will head the [URP] party who was elected by the religious-Zionist [movement]. Bennett was not faithful to religious-Zionism and its people. He declared he was not obligated to the sector or the rabbis. You do not do unions with every person for every price,” said the MK.

In a lengthy response on Facebook, Bennett said: “I do not want to return to you, and I do not regret what I did in establishing the New Right,” adding “Basically I don’t want anything from you.”

Bennett went on to argue that he and the New Right represent the religious-Zionist community better than Yogev himself who he accused of radicalism and isolationism.

He also retweeted an article from February relating how senior religious-Zionist leader Rabbi Yaakov Medan said he could not accept claims that Bennett had “betrayed” Bayit Yehudi or the religious-Zionist community, and in which Medan noted that he and three other senior religious-Zionist rabbis asked Bennett to either focus on core concerns of the sector or quit as party head.

Chairman of the URP, MK Rabbi Rafi Peretz, intervened in the war of words, calling on “all potential partners of the right-wing and religious-Zionism, at home and outside, to reduce the flames,” saying that unity of the right-wing camp was “the supreme mission placed on our shoulders” and which should guide every step taken.

And MK Betzalel Smotrich, head of the National Union, a constituent of URP, also called for restraint, in comments apparently aimed at Yogev, saying that disparaging, besmirching and insulting [others] would only harm the right-wing.

Smotrich also indicated that he too seeks a broad technical bloc of right-wing parties for the upcoming election, saying that “the goal of everyone is to establish a right-wing government,” and that “the only way to achieve this is for there to be one, big right-wing party to the right of the Likud.”

URP took five seats in the April elections, garnering some 160,000 votes, despite comprising three separate parties. New Right received 138,000 votes but was just 1,400 votes shy of passing the electoral threshold and taking four seats.

Moshe Feiglin’s libertarian-right-wing Zehut party received another 118,000 votes which were also lost to the right-wing.

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