URP chairman Bezalel Smotrich at the Sovereignty Movement’s youth conference at Bar-Ilan University.
(photo credit: DAVID WEIL PHOTOGRAPHY)
National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich made an overt appeal to the New Right to unite in one large religious right-wing electoral list, saying he was willing to give up his No. 2 spot on the list and his first option for a ministerial role to bring such a union about.
And in another heavy push for political unity on the religious right, senior National-Religious leader Rabbi Haim Druckman also called on all right-wing parties to unite, saying the “wholeness” of the Land of Israel and the Jewish character of Israel was at stake.
Speaking at the Sovereignty Movement’s youth conference at Bar-Ilan University, Smotrich made similar remarks to those of Druckman, saying that the religious Right had a responsibility for the continued political dominance of the Israeli right-wing in general, and for the Land of Israel and its Jewish character.
“The heavy responsibilities on our shoulders oblige us to coalesce together, overcome ego and run together,” said Smotrich. “I will be the first to give up my personal position so that this joint run will succeed.”
The MK said that he had demonstrated before the last election his readiness to compromise for the sake of unity, after he backed down on his demand for the top spot on the United Right-Wing Party’s ticket that ran in the April election. Moreover, Smotrich said, he had also given up his right for the first option for a ministerial position on the joint list, having conceded the Education Ministry to Bayit Yehudi leader Rafi Peretz.
“I will do it again and again, with joy and without applause, so that everyone to the right of Likud – and the strong religious-Zionist movement with this great energy – will join together on one paper ballot, and God willing succeed and restore the great strength to advance that which is important to us: sovereignty [over Judea and Samaria],” he said.
Speaking earlier, Druckman made similar comments.
“There is no doubt that all the right-wing parties need to run together, because all of them have a great responsibility toward the whole of the Land of Israel and the Jewish character of the State of Israel,” the rabbi told KAN’s Reshet Bet radio station. “I trust the men of deeds to find the path. All I know is that the public wants unity, and there is a need for unity. All the right-wing parties without exception, each one of them in accordance with its proportions, including Otzmah L’Yisrael,” said the rabbi, referring to the far right Otzma Yehudit Party, which was part of URP in the last election.
The religious-Right has been riven by the departure of former Bayit Yehudi leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, who formed the New Right Party which narrowly failed to make it into the Knesset.
Elements in the religious-Right have blamed Bennett for the failure to establish a new, right-wing government because of the right-wing votes lost by the New Right, which could have added several more seats to the right-wing bloc.
Despite this, Druckman gave Bennett strong praise and argued that the New Right should be included in the right-wing union, because Bennett is “a man with great strengths, and it is fitting that the Jewish people use his mighty strengths.”
Also on Thursday, Bayit Yehudi said that its four MKs had approved the decision of its secretariat to preserve its electoral list from the previous election without the need for further internal decisions on the list.
The decision now needs to be ratified by the party’s central committee.
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