Meet the MK: Yoni Chetboun

Bayit Yehudi lawmaker says gov't must declare the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to Jewish people.

Yoni Chetboun (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Yoni Chetboun
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Name: Yoni Chetboun Party: Bayit Yehudi Age: 33 Hometown: Jerusalem Family status: Married, 6 children Aliya: I made aliya in my mother’s stomach. My parents made aliya from France to Nahariya when she was nine-months pregnant.Profession before becoming an MK: Major in the IDF’s Egoz Reconnaissance Unit, received Chief of Staff’s Citation for his service in the Battle of Bint Jbail in the Second Lebanon War. Managed a strategic consulting company that worked with NGOs and government offices and led Ra’ananim, an NGO for young religious Zionists.
Why did you decide to enter politics?
After long IDF service and leading public battles, I reached the conclusion that the main way to influence the character of Israeli society is in the political field. It’s important for me to emphasize that politics is not the only way to have an influence, and I salute those who chose to work in education, the IDF, the economy and social organizations.
What are the first three bills you plan to propose?
In my opinion, it’s very populist to make declarations and propose bills in one’s first days as an MK, and I have decided to dedicate the coming weeks to learning [the ropes].
I have decided to promote two central issues in the upcoming Knesset, with God’s help. First, strengthening [poor] neighborhoods, development towns and the weaker population, which, unfortunately, have suffered from continued abandonment for decades. In the election, the discourse was mostly about the middle class, but I waved the flag of the periphery.
The second issue is strengthening the values of Zionism in Israel and fighting increasing delegitimization [of the Jewish state] in Israel and abroad. As an officer and commander in the IDF, I unfortunately met many post-Zionist organizations that weaken the IDF’s activities and harmed our operational capabilities.
What was the most interesting experience on the campaign trail?
Throughout the campaign, I traveled all over the country and met people. One of the most interesting days was a tour in neighborhoods in southern Tel Aviv, where I met a family that made aliya from Morocco in the 1950s, and is the only Jewish family in a building of African migrants. I was astounded by the situation, but when I asked them about it, they said, “This is our home, and you don’t leave your home.”
This Knesset has a record-high number of women and religious people. How do you think this will affect the way it functions and the kinds of changes it brings?
In my eyes, the major change is not in gender or in kippot, but the fact that the current Knesset has dozens of new MKs with achievements in social and ideological areas.
The meaning of this is that the discourse [in the legislature] is much more values-driven, with more cooperation and less low politics.
Do you think haredim and Arabs should perform military or national service, and if so, how should the state enforce it?
As someone who studied for years in yeshiva and also served in the army for 10 years, I and my religious- Zionist friends prove that Torah and army can be combined.
Still, it is clear to me that the world of Torah study is important and an existential matter for Israel. Therefore, it is important to allow those who truly study Torah with diligence to continue their studies. The main problem is with those who are registered in yeshivas but don’t actually study.
Bayit Yehudi is the only party that can be a bridge between the haredi and secular worlds, while emphasizing benefits for those who serve and creating infrastructure in the IDF or civilian service for haredim. It’s clear that nothing will be accomplished through force.Do you support a religious-Zionist candidate, such as Rabbi David Stav, for the Chief Rabbinate?
I don’t want to talk about one person or another, but it is clear to me that the head of the Chief Rabbinate must be someone who is great in Torah and values the State of Israel and the Zionist vision.
What can be done to lower the cost of housing in Israel?
The central problem that led to an increase in housing prices in Israel is the low supply of land and construction possibilities. Today, the state has a monopoly on 93 percent of the land, and because of bureaucracy, homes can’t be built, and prices won’t go down. Construction in western Samaria can also lower housing prices in Tel Aviv.What do you think can be cut in the 2013 state budget, which must be passed within 45 days of the government’s swearing in?
I’ll surprise you. As an officer who served many years in the IDF, I think that billions of wasted dollars can be cut from the Defense Ministry. The lack of transparency in how resources are used prevents any possibility of economic efficiency and redistributions of funds to welfare and education.
What is your position on talks with the Palestinian Authority and a possible Palestinian state?
The last election proved that the Israeli public understands that the idea of two states is not realistic and not applicable, and showed that the public voted on socioeconomic matters.
The next government must say clearly that the Land of Israel belongs exclusively to the People of Israel because of our historic and biblical rights. We should not be embarrassed; it’s the truth. A lot of problems will be solved if we start feeling, saying and acting this way.
Do you support the adoption of the Edmund Levy Report, which recommends the state approve unauthorized Jewish settlements in the West Bank?
Of course!