Habayit Hayehudi infighting heats up

Knesset legal adviser says millions of shekels were dealt with illegally; Herschkowitz and Orbach boycott Orlev's NRP convention.

311_Herschkowitz (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Now that Labor has become more cohesive and Kadima is working on settling its internal problems, the Knesset faction that seems to be the most divided is the religious- Zionist Habayit Hayehudi.
The Knesset’s legal adviser, Eyal Yinon, decided on Monday that millions of shekels in funding for Habayit Hayehudi had been illegally transferred to a bank account controlled by the faction when it should have gone to the National Religious Party that Habayit Hayehudi succeeded.
Habayit Hayehudi’s chairman, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz, and faction chairman MK Uri Orbach said they have a rival, legal ruling that says the bank account they formed represents the party.
But when Habayit Hayehudi was formed, the National Religious Party’s institutions were supposed to be dissolved, but it never happened, and Habayit Hayehudi MK Zevulun Orlev continues to function as chairman of the NRP.
They expressed hope that they could persuade Yinon to change his mind, but said they would be willing to go to court if necessary.
The NRP held a convention on Tuesday in Moshav Nehalim east of Petah Tikva and decided to begin a membership drive and elect new institutions.
Herschkowitz and Orbach boycotted the session, which Herschkowitz said had no legal standing. He released a letter complaining that Orlev was a “serial toppler of party leaders” after unseating former NRP heads Effi Eitam and Yitzhak Levy.
Orbach said he was concerned that Orlev would use the drive to dominate the party and work against them.
But Orlev said the drive would be fair and that his two faction colleagues should participate.
Orlev said important steps were taken at the convention to unite religious Zionism and open the ranks to new people ahead of the next election. He said the financial dispute was resolved in his favor and that if the matter went to court he has no doubt he would emerge victorious.
MKs Herschkowitz and Orbach would legally be able to split the faction, but they said they would not even if the dispute were to escalate, because they would legally be required to assume two thirds of the party’s NIS 30 million debt.
“If you find me NIS 20m., maybe we could split it,” Herschkowitz said.