Orlev, Herschkowitz emphasize unity after gaffe

Rabbi Aviner throws support behind Bennett; Herschkowitz cites opponent in Habayit Hayehudi primary's "long line of irresponsible statements."

Habayit Hayehudi English debate 370 (photo credit: Yehoshua Sigala)
Habayit Hayehudi English debate 370
(photo credit: Yehoshua Sigala)
Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidates MK Zevulun Orlev and Science and Technology Minister Daniel Herschkowitz on Sunday emphasized the importance of a united national- religious list with the National Union.
Orlev’s and Herschkowitz’s statements came after a party source told The Jerusalem Post that third Habayit Hayehudi leadership candidate Naftali Bennett said he only wants MK Uri Ariel (National Union) as second on a joint Knesset candidates list, without National Union leader Ya’acov Katz and MKs Arieh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari.
“This is one of a long line of irresponsible statements about personalities in religious Zionism and the prime minister that could split national-religious voters and leave Habayit Hayehudi in the opposition,” Herschkowitz said.
The minister added that Bennett clashed with many people who worked with him in the past, and that Habayit Hayehudit needs responsible leadership.
Orlev would not refer to Bennett directly, saying only that there is “a great, critical and strategic importance to a united list with the National Union.”
He continued, “I am sure that someone with political experience, like me, can translate this vision into reality,” the MK of 13 years and former minister stated. “When I am elected, I will immediately begin a marathon of talks to bring a signed agreement [between the two parties] as soon as possible.”
Orlev also said each party will pick its own representatives on the list, and that he does not reject any National Union MK.
Anglo candidates for the Habayit Hayehudi list Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel said that they would only endorse a leadership candidate who agrees to a joint run with the National Union, even if that means risking losing a seat in the Knesset.
“The most critical challenge facing our camp today is unity, and we will do everything in our power to make sure this happens,” they said. “The difference between one unified block and small independent parties is the difference between relevance and irrelevance, during a time when the nation needs to hear our voice more than ever before.”
On Sunday, Bennett responded to the outrage over his opponents’ statements by posting on his Facebook and Twitter accounts: “Let there be no doubt – I support and push for a united camp and unity with the National Union, and I will act with all of my power for it to happen. I do not reject anyone. Period.”
However, commenters on his Facebook page were skeptical.
“There are rumors that you want to make Uri Ariel your No. 2, and throw out all the rest,” a Facebook fan wrote. “Is that the unity you mean?” Several people asked Bennett to write specifically that he would include Eldad and Ben- Ari.
“Friends, I do not reject anyone,” Bennett responded.
Meanwhile, Beit El Chief Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, one of religious Zionism’s spiritual leaders and head of the Ateret Yerushalayim yeshiva, threw his support behind Bennett, saying he can make Habayit Hayehudi’s ideals a reality.
“Despite the personal qualities of the current Habayit Hayehudi MKs and their important achievements, we do not see that they are able to promote the party,” Aviner said. “Therefore, a change of personnel is necessary.”
Aviner praised Bennet and Ayelet Shaked, a secular woman running with Bennett, calling them very talented, with a long-term vision and proven successes in leadership positions, as well as good character traits and ideals.
Bennett’s campaign said over 1,000 people joined Habayit Hayehudi via his website after Aviner’s letter of support was publicized, most within the first hour, leading his site to crash.
“If the site hadn’t broken down, many more people would have joined the party,” Bennet’s campaign said. “We will make sure to get to those who couldn’t sign up, and call for them to try again.”