eldad arye 88.
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National Union MK Arye Eldad will head a new secular right-wing party in the next election that will try to win support away from the Likud and Israel Beiteinu, Eldad announced Tuesday.
The party will be called Hatikva, which means "the hope" in Hebrew and is the name of Israel's national anthem.
Eldad, who has run as part of the National Union's Moledet party in the last two elections, said he had decided to form a new party, because with nine religious candidates in its top 10, the National Union did not receive enough secular votes. Eldad said he had first tried to convince all the parties that make up the National Union to unite and hold a membership drive and open primaries, but he did not succeed.
"In the last election, non-religious voters went to the Likud, Israel Beiteinu or stayed home because they had no one to vote for," Eldad said. "The Likud has proven that it can take right-wing votes and implement the policies of Peace Now. Israel Beiteinu used to sound like a right-wing party, but now they favor dividing Jerusalem. I needed a party that would really be right-wing."
Polls conducted for Hatikva found that 23 percent of Israelis who identify themselves as centrist or right-wing would consider voting for such a party.
Besides Eldad, the party has attracted the support of well-known figures such as attorney Haim Misgav and Dr. Ron Breiman, the former head of Professors for a Strong Israel. The 100 founders of the party elected as its temporary chairman Yehoar Gal, a reserve IAF colonel who has run for Knesset with the Likud and the National Union. He is close to former chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz.
Hatikva is conducting a membership drive via its Web site, Hatikva.org.il, and will select its Knesset list in a primary among its members. Eldad said he would remain part of the National Union until the next election.
Asked why he did not join one of the existing parties to the Right of the National Union, Eldad said Baruch Marzel's Jewish National Front Party was seen by the public as identifying with the views of slain Kach leader Meir Kahane, and former MK Michael Kleiner's Herut Party could not attract enough support.
Eldad said he hoped Hatikva would build itself into enough of a force to merit becoming a strong part of the nationalist camp. He said the party could run as part of the National Union in the next election.
Knesset Law Committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson is trying to pass an electoral reform that would automatically make the leader of the largest party prime minister, instead of the current system, in which the president decides who should form the government. Eldad said that if Ben-Sasson passed the reform, the Likud and all the parties to the Right of it would have to run together in order to ensure Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's victory.
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