Habayit Hayehudi to mull holding Anglo slot

Party expected to meet on proposal conditionally reserving fifth slot on the party’s next Knesset list for an immigrant.

Orlev 311 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Orlev 311
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Habayit Hayehudi’s Membership Drive and Election Committee is expected to meet next month to approve a proposal by MK Zevulun Orlev to conditionally reserve the fifth slot on the party’s next Knesset candidates list for an immigrant.
The move is expected to be supported by Orlev’s two competitors in Habayit Hayehudi’s November 6 leadership primary, Science and Technology Minister (and current party chairman) Daniel Herschkowitz and former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip director-general Naftali Bennett.
Orlev proposed the initiative in an effort to woo thousands of native English-speakers eligible to vote in the primary.
There currently are no Russian or Ethiopian immigrants running for Knesset slots with Habayit Hayehudi. But two American immigrants are running: Jeremy Gimpel, who made aliya from Atlanta, and native Texan Ari Abramowitz.
“The time has come for there to be a representative from English-speaking countries in the Knesset,” Orlev said.
“Israel’s future depends on more Jews making aliya from Western countries. It is unacceptable for a Zionist party like ours to not take steps to ensure that immigrants from Western countries have representation in the next Knesset.”
Orlev, who has close ties with Diaspora Jewish leaders due to his role as co-president of World Mizrachi, thanked Gimpel for pointing out the need for an immigrant from an English- speaking country in the Knesset. Gimpel said he was extremely happy about the move.
“Habayit Hayehudi represents religious Zionism in Israel,” he said. “Is there anything more Zionist than making aliya? The English-speaking community in Israel has a particularly powerful message as we, unlike other immigrants, chose aliya. That Zionist message until now has had no representation in the Knesset. We are thrilled with the initiative and believe it will strengthen the party.”
Orlev asked Membership Drive and Election Committee chairman Danny Tropper to convene the committee to change the party’s bylaws, which currently require that the fourth slot on the list be reserved for a woman and the fifth for a young candidate.
According to the current rules, if the women’s slot is won by a candidate who is also young, such as My Israel movement head Ayelet Shaked, the fifth slot would be open to anyone.
Orlev’s proposal would make the slot go to an immigrant in such a scenario.
Tropper, who is a native New Yorker, expressed doubt that his committee would approve any new reserved slots. He said there have been proposals to reserve slots for a Sephardi candidate and other sectors.
“It is late to make changes at this point,” Tropper said. “Any changes we make now would create a feeling of zigzagging.
Reserving slots is controversial and requires a great deal of thought.”
Opponents of Orlev in Habayit Hayehudi mocked him for skipping a debate of leadership candidates hosted by Abramowitz and Gimpel in Jerusalem last month. Orlev’s critics said that if he cared so much about the English-speaking vote, he should have joined Bennett and Herschkowitz at the event.
It is possible that Gimpel and Abramowitz could win high slots on Habayit Hayehudi’s Knesset slate even without reserved slots. They have signed up thousands of new members in the party’s registration drive, including more than 100 who have left the Likud.
In an effort to persuade more Likudniks to return to the former National Religious Party, Gimpel challenged Moshe Feiglin, the head of the Likud’s Manhigut Yehudit movement, to a debate. Feiglin responded by agreeing on the condition that the debate be against Bennett, so it would be at the level of people who have run for chairman of their party.
Bennett said he would make a decision next week when he convenes the heads of his campaign.
But he is expected to turn down the offer and decide to instead challenge the elected leaders of other parties to a debate if he wins the leadership of Habayit Hayehudi.