National Union-National Religious Party chairman Benny Elon must resign due to the failures of the party in the March 28 election, his colleague MK Arye Eldad demanded Tuesday.
Eldad wrote a harshly-worded letter two weeks ago to the members of the executive and the council of Moledet, the party within the NU-NRP that Elon and Eldad represent. In the letter, Eldad charged that the NU-NRP failed in the election because it sought support only from religious-Zionists and not from the entire Right.
Elon defended the party's strategy and said that Eldad's approach would not have brought the party more votes.
Elon promised ahead of the election to resign if the NU-NRP did not retain the 10 seats the party had going into the race. Eldad said not only did Elon not resign after winning only nine seats, but Moledet's institutions had still not met to discuss the results of the election and its ramifications.
"Someone who made a promise publicly and privately must take responsibility for his failures," Eldad said. "The chairman of Moledet has delayed discussing such an integral matter for half a year for personal reasons. The party is undemocratic and its institutions are dummies of its chairman that he uses to make it look like there is a real party."
Alleging financial improprieties, Eldad wrote in the letter that the party's budget for the elections was NIS 11 million but it spent NIS 20m., creating a debt that had forced all the parties in the National Union to cut staff and essentially cease to function. The impact of the cut, according to party sources, was that they had no financial resources to fight the government and prevent future territorial concessions.
Eldad tried unsuccessfully to initiate a meeting of the party council without Elon two weeks ago after Elon delayed the meeting intended to discuss the election until after Succot. Instead, Eldad sat with his loyalists and strategized against Elon.
Eldad said he doubted Elon would take responsibility for the election when the council meets.
"The meeting will present the 'achievements' of the election the way [Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert presented the 'achievements' of the war," Eldad said mockingly. "Moledet and the National Union failed in the election, especially considering the promises and expectations. But in our political system, people don't have to pay a price if they have enough yes-men calling a failure a success."
Eldad said it was a strategic mistake for the National Union to run together with the National Religious Party instead of allowing the embattled NRP to run on its own, fail to pass the political threshold and disappear from the political map. He expressed fear that the NRP would quit the partnership to join the government. He said if the NU-NRP joined a Kadima-led government, he would quit Moledet and the NU-NRP.
Elon responded that the numbers were correct and that a council meeting to discuss them was delayed after the state comptroller postponed the deadline for parties submitting post-election reports due to the war. He said the election was discussed at council meetings and would be discussed in greater depth after Sukkot.
"It is neither responsible nor wise to advertise such letters that don't have any benefit," Elon said. "I defended Aryeh, who is unpopular inside Moledet, and insisted that he remain an MK. As for his claim about the non-religious Right, they might not be worth a single mandate. We don't see them in demonstrations or at the ballot box."