Knesset approves new right-wing faction

MK Aryeh Eldad vows to not compete with National Union; MK Ya'acov Katz is expected to quit politics.

Uri Ariel, Arie Eldad in Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
Uri Ariel, Arie Eldad in Jerusalem 370
(photo credit: LAHAV HARKOV)
The Knesset House Committee voted unanimously Monday to approve a proposed split in the National Union and the formation of a new faction further to the Right on the political map called Strength for Israel.
MK Uri Ariel, who boycotted the vote, will remain in the National Union and merge it with Habayit Hayehudi. MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari will run at the helm of Strength for Israel. MK Ya’acov Katz, who was rejected by his party’s central committee Sunday, is expected to quit politics.
Eldad promised that his party would target voters from Likud rather than compete with the National Union for the support of settlers. He said he could win over secular right-wing voters who are concerned about Israeli Arabs and African migrant workers.
He congratulated Ariel, who was formally approved as National Union chairman Sunday, while slamming Katz, with whom he often sparred.
“The National Union will succeed no less because of who will be on their list than who will not be,” Eldad said.
“Ketzaleh [Katz’s nickname] was not an electoral asset.”
A Dialog poll published in Monday’s Haaretz newspaper found that Eldad’s new party would pass the two percent electoral threshold, but he expressed confidence that when his party’s name is known, its support will rise.
Eldad noted two polls that identify the party as led by him that predicted it would win three seats.
The Moledet Party, which did not have an MK in the last Knesset, announced support for the National Union and criticized Eldad and Ben-Ari. Moledet leader Uri Bank said a split in the last election made both the National Union and Habayit Hayehudi “politically impotent” and noted that a 1992 split enabled the Oslo Accords’ passage.
“The political legacy that I inherited from Moledet leaders Rehavam Ze’evi and Rabbi Benny Elon is to learn from the right-wing’s previous mistakes, make every effort for unity in the national camp, and never give in to divisiveness,” Bank said. “It is very unfortunate that MKs Eldad and Ben-Ari have weakened our camp with their split, while there are absolutely no differences on the ideological level. By doing so they have proven that they have not internalized the lessons of past elections in which the right-wing divided and suffered sorely for it.”