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In a move that gives the National Religious Party a recognizable face from the settler movement and from the Sephardi community, 93 percent of the voters in Thursday's election put MK Nissan Slomiansky and former MK Eliyahu Gabbay at the top of the party's 17th Knesset list.
Slomiansky, who was at the bottom of the four-member NRP faction in the 16th Knesset, now holds the number two spot, under party leader MK Zevulun Orlev.
He is followed by Gabbay, Gila Finkelstein, Shaul Yahalom and former Bnei Akiva head Moti Yogev.
Of all the NRP politicians, Slomiansky had the most visible presence in Gaza during the disengagement, where he stood in solidarity with the settlers. He also lives in the settlement of Elkana and was formerly a member of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
Slomiansky told The Jerusalem Post that with the victory comes the weight of responsibility for the future of the party and religious Zionism. In campaigning in the next months for the NRP, he said he would tell voters that the religious Zionist movement, and the values of education and social welfare that it stands for, are in danger if the public doesn't come out to support the party.
"Just like Gush Katif was erased, the movement can also be destroyed," he warned.
Both he and Gabbay said they would also speak of the need to support education and to improve conditions for the poor. Gabbay said he was particularly concerned with the growing economic gap in the country. If it's not fixed, "we will soon be a country of two nations," he said.
Gabbay himself knows about poverty first hand. When he came to Israel from Iraq as a small child, he lived in a transit camp for 10 years. "I remember spending half a day standing in line for food," he recalled.
An educator, who was also a deputy-mayor of Jerusalem under former mayor Ehud Olmert, Gabbay was a member of the 14th Knesset. He also came in seventh on the list in the last elections.
Finkelstein, who came in third, said the list for the 17th Knesset reflects the party's diversity. She notes that unlike the Likud which didn't even put a woman in its top 10, the NRP voters placed her third.
In the 16th Knesset, Finkelstein entered the Knesset in fifth place in a slot reserved for a female candidate. This time around, she noted, she was able to make it on her own reputation as a politician. In the last year, she was recognized as one of the top legislators in the Knesset, passing 15 laws.
"The citizens of Israel are tired of lazy people, they want people in politics who are industrious," she said. As the former principal of a school, she was used to hard work, she said.
MK Shaul Yahalom who, like Finkelstein, was among those who passed the highest number of laws in the Knesset, placed fourth. It's a showing that puts him in danger of not returning to the Knesset, as polls show the NRP receiving three to four mandates.
Yahalom told the media that he was proud of his party and welcomed the change in its representatives.
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