(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
The joint head of the Union of Right-Wing Parties Bezalel Smotrich hit back at several critics on Monday, directly blaming New Right leaders Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked for having wasted right-wing votes after their party failed to cross the electoral threshold in the April general election.
Smotrich took umbrage in particular to an interview conducted with Army Radio by New Right candidate Matan Kahana, who said on Monday that the party would run in the new election in September even without popular party founder Ayelet Shaked.
Kahana added that New Right would consider joining “a technical bloc” with Bayit Yehudi, meaning the two parties could run together on a joint ticket and split after the election so as to avoid falling under the electoral threshold.
“One of the most arrogant interviews ever,” tweeted Smotrich in response. “Zero soul-searching, zero repentance for the sin, zero taking of responsibility, zero learning from mistakes. Hubris at its best. Now they’re running without Ayelet Shaked, it would be funny if it wasn’t so embarrassing,” he added, in a dig at New Right’s chances of electoral success without the highly regarded Shaked.
Shaked has yet to decide her political future, but it is thought there is a significant chance of her not running with the New Right.
Smotrich’s condemnation of Kahana’s comments refer to the controversial decision Bennett and Shaked took in splitting from Bayit Yehudi to form the New Right party, which they wanted to have a less religious flavor than the explicitly and increasingly religious joint ticket of Bayit Yehudi and National Union.
Bennett and Shaked have faced heavy criticism that they wasted the 138,000 right-wing votes New Right garnered by splintering from Bayit Yehudi, since the party did not pass the electoral threshold.
Some on the Right have argued that had Bennett and Shaked stayed with Bayit Yehudi, the extra seats would have helped the right-wing, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, form a government after the April election.
Earlier, Smotrich hit out at comments made by Likud Central Committee member Moshe Ifergan, who accused Smotrich, two senior national-religious rabbis, and prominent editors of national-religious news outlets of encouraging Bennett and Shaked to quit Bayit Yehudi.
Smotrich rejected Ifergan’s comments too, saying he had opposed the move and insisted that responsibility for Bennett and Shaked splitting off from Bayit Yehudi “rests on the shoulders of the person who did it and no one else,” adding that “blaming a battered wife for her beating” should stop.
Separately, Moshe Feiglin, head of the Zehut Party, promised to back a right-wing candidate to create the next government. This is in contrast to the previous election, where Feiglin declined to back Netanyahu leading to speculation that he would back Blue and White’s leader Benny Gantz because of Feiglin’s historic, bitter rivalry with Netanyahu.
Although Feiglin promised to back a right-wing candidate, he did not say who his candidate would be, and leveled criticism at Netanyahu although did not mention him by name.
“When right-wing identity is personal and not ideological, right-wing ideology will always be sacrificed on the alter of the personal interest of the leader,” tweeted Feiglin obliquely. “The right-wing [identity] of Zehut is ideological. We will not establish a left-wing government. We will go with a leader whom the nationalist camp choses, on condition that he fulfills right-wing policies.”
Right-wing parties have frequently criticized Netanyahu for what they see as his failure to implement right-wing policies, particularly in regard to settlement building and his vacillations on a Palestinian state.
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