Orbach endorses Bennett in Habayit Hayehudi race

The party’s three Knesset members now each back different candidates in the September 4 vote.

Naftali Bennet 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Naftali Bennet 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Habayit Hayehudi’s internal divisions deepened on Wednesday when MK Uri Orbach endorsed former Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria head Naftali Bennett in the leadership race of the religious-Zionist party.
The party’s three Knesset members now each back different candidates in the September 4 vote. Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz and MK Zevulun Orlev both back themselves, and Orbach supports Bennett.
Orbach said one of the reasons for his endorsement of Bennett was that the constant infighting between Herschkowitz and Orlev had harmed the party. Orlev has said that if he does not win the primary, he would quit politics.
But the main reason Orbach said he supported Bennett was that he was impressed by the 40-year-old hi-tech millionaire and former adviser to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and that he believed the party needed younger leadership.
“We need to skip a generation,” Orbach said. “Naftali has accomplished a lot at a young age, which has made him ready to lead religious Zionism. Putting him at the top of the list would help persuade the young generation that they should be led by someone religious Zionist.”
Orbach revealed that he had tried for months to persuade Bennett to run with Habayit Hayehudi and not form a new party. Orbach wants Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union to run together in the next election, ideally under the leadership of Bennett.
“The National Union leadership does not have a problem with Bennett like they have with our other candidates,” Orbach said. “His views are between the two parties, and that is where most of religious Zionism is today.”
Orbach said he also liked the fact that Bennett, who lives in Ra’anana, is a native English speaker. He said this would allow Habayit Hayehudi to reach out to immigrants to Israel from English speaking countries in a way that the party and its forerunner, the National Religious Party, had not in the past.
Bennett wrote on Facebook he was thankful for Orbach’s support and that it was a step on the way to victory.