Israel Elections: Zionist Spirit No. 3 is ex-religious kibbutz leader

Amitai Porat, 50, served as secretary general of the Religious Kibbutz movement between 2016 and 2021 and was chosen instead of the Byait Yehudi leader.

 Zionist Spirit leader Ayelet Shaked and her partner in the party Yoaz Hendel announce Amitia Porat as third in their party list. (photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)
Zionist Spirit leader Ayelet Shaked and her partner in the party Yoaz Hendel announce Amitia Porat as third in their party list.
(photo credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

Amitai Porat will fill the third spot on the Zionist Spirit list after Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel, the party confirmed on Sunday.

Porat, 50, served as secretary-general of the Religious Kibbutz movement between 2016 and 2021. He is the son of the late Hanan Porat, a former MK and one of the leaders of the settler movement “Gush Emunim” which operated in the 1970s and 80s.

Porat was chosen over the leader of the Bayit Yehudi Party, Yossi Brodni. Reports last week said that Brodni and Shaked had been in talks about merging their two parties, but Brodni said on Sunday morning that his party will be running alone.

“Amitai is joining Zionist Spirit, not because of a job or a promise but because that population deserves a representative in the political sector,” said Shaked. “The national religious population deserves a home. This 100-year-old movement is sane normality that connects and doesn’t deter.

“Anyone who loves Israel and the people of Israel, here is their home. You have an appropriate representative.”

 Zionist Spirit leader Ayelet Shaked with Amitia Porat. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV) Zionist Spirit leader Ayelet Shaked with Amitia Porat. (credit: AVSHALOM SASSONI/MAARIV)

“I am happy to be joining Zionist Spirit, the home of religious Zionism and the moral right,” said Porat. “Today, more than ever, we need to bring back the Zionist spirit, the pioneering, the no-compromise handling of the challenges that stand before us and the nation of Israel and the uniting and connecting spirit.

“The task we’ve taken on ourselves is to bridge between all sectors of the people. As a religious kibbutz man, I am here in order to promote the values of agriculture, settlement and the country.”

Appealing to moderate right-wing Israeli voters ahead of elections

Both Shaked and Hendel are secular, and they were expected to choose a religious figure in the third spot in order to attract religious-Zionist voters.

The choice of Porat indicates that the party will attempt to attract moderate right-wing voters who were disenchanted by Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar’s merger with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and former chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, but who do not want to vote for the Likud or the other parties that are farther to the Right, Religious Zionism and Otzma Yehudit.

The first four candidates on the Zionist Spirit list would then be Shaked, Hendel, Porat and MK Zvi Hauser.

The party has been hovering well under the electoral threshold of 3.25% of the total vote, worth four seats, since its formation on July 27. In a recent poll published on Friday, the party was expected to receive 2.6% of the general vote.

Replacing an incumbent Israeli MK

Porat was also chosen over current Yamina MK Abir Kara, who will now likely only fill the unrealistic number five spot.

Kara wrote to supporters that he cared less about which spot he would be in and more about three issues that he insists the party adopt.

The three are a reform that will permit free import of food products; restoring efficiency to the public sector, including firing unproductive workers; and opposing extravagant IDF officers’ pensions, known as the “chief of staff bonus.”

"If they [the rest of the party] do not sign these conditions … we will think about how to remind everyone on the list who they serve, and who the activists that support them are."

Yamina MK Abir Kara

“If they [the rest of the party] do not sign on to these conditions… we will think about how to remind everyone on the list who they serve, and who the activists that support them are,” Kara threatened.