Bennett: Katz, Eldad, Ben-Ari won't be in faction

Katz: Anyone who does not want a united list hates Israel; National Union fumes at Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidate's comment.

Naftali Bennet 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Naftali Bennet 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
National Union MKs slammed Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidate Naftali Bennett on Thursday, after Bennett told sources within his party that, should he win, he would get rid of three-fourths of the National Union MKs, including MK Ya’acov Katz, in the parties’ planned unity deal.
Bennett said he will take the top spot in a united list, followed by MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who would have priority for any ministerial positions offered in coalition negotiations.
Katz is sick of politics and plans to leave, so Uri Ariel will only be the Tekuma party member left in the National Union, Bennett told a party source in a closed meeting.
Bennett continued by saying that he wouldn’t put National Union MKs Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari on the list, and that they can run as a separate, extreme-right party.
“Remind me who Naftali Bennett is?” Eldad quipped, when asked for a reaction.
“He just got into politics and he already thinks he can make everyone do whatever he wants?” a high-ranking National Union source fumed.
A source in Katz’s office said the National Union chairman is furious, and Bennett’s claims are completely false.
Katz would not respond to Bennett’s statement, because he did not hear it directly from the Habayit Hayehudi candidate, but asserted that “anyone who does not want a united list hates Israel.”
“We will not forgive the unreasonable margins in the two parties that will try to prevent unity. The public wants unity, and if we run together, we will get over 10 seats in the Knesset and take seats from Likud, Yisrael Beytenu and Shas,” Katz added.
“There are some in National Union who don’t want Bennett, and some in Habayit Hayehudi who do not want Ben-Ari, but we will all run together. All of us, all of us, all of us,” he emphasized. “There is no other option.”
“If religious Zionism runs in two separate lists in the next election, it will be Bennett’s fault,” Ben-Ari said. “If Bennett really said those things, it shows that, although he hasn’t proved his political worth or that he has any public support, he is already busy with splits, fights and denials.”
The source in Katz’s office also explained that earlier this year, when elections were expected to be held in September and Katz and incumbent Habayit Hayehudi chairman Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz agreed to run together, they did not finalize who would lead the list.
During the Habayit Hayehudi membership drive, which ends in September, and ahead of the primary in November, National Union sent the unity agreement to all three Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidates - Bennett, Herschkowitz and MK Zevulun Orlev. All three have yet to sign, although they pledged support for a joint list publicly and in talks with Katz.
A spokesman for Bennett denied that the Habayit Hayehudi leader said he would remove three out of four National Union MKs from the list, but admitted he was not in the meeting with the party source.
“He definitely never said that, and we are happy that Katz will be on the united list,” the spokesman said. “We’re less excited about Ben-Ari. Anything else is just people's interpretations and predictions on what the united list will look like. It is irrelevant to us, and certainly is not our position.”