Education Minister Naftali Bennett “raped” Bayit Yehudi by leaving the party to start the New Right, Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev said on Wednesday.
“We must remember Bennett’s disrespect for religious Zionism reached new heights in the past six years,” Yogev, second on the Bayit Yehudi’s list, told Army Radio. “Not only did he abandon the political home of religious Zionism with heavy debts while forcing himself on Bayit Yehudi in the last election with the potential of getting 14 seats. In the end we got eight, and he left us with debts of over [NIS] 11 million for this rape.”
Yogev added that Bennett is trying to get religious-Zionist votes despite his “lack of loyalty” to that group’s values.
“He climbed over this party to reach political success. We will go back now to the values and roots of religious Zionism while caring, certainly feeling responsible for the people of Israel, Land of Israel and Torah of Israel... and not as a way station on the way to Likud or the premiership or Defense Ministry like Bennett did, on our backs,” Yogev said.
MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who left Bayit Yehudi with Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to form the New Right, tweeted to Yogev: “I expect you to apologize for your miserable statements. I expect elected officials to use clean language.”
Moalem-Refaeli also accused Yogev of “ingratitude,” pointing out that before Bennett and Shaked joined Bayit Yehudi in 2012, the party had only three seats in the Knesset.
“Without them, you wouldn’t be an MK,” she wrote.
Yogev later said: “The use of the word ‘rape’ was inappropriate, and I apologize.”
Also Wednesday, Bayit Yehudi announced that journalist Yifat Erlich was appointed as the third candidate on its party list.
“Yifat is a valuable addition to Bayit Yehudi. She represents the young religious-Zionist community and exemplifies the community’s diversity, vibrancy and morality,” a Bayit Yehudi spokesperson said.
In addition to being a journalist, Erlich, 40, is a writer and public relations professional who has written on sensitive social issues in religious society, including divorces, abortions, cults, and issues within the Ethiopian community. She has hosted investigative television programs and written for various newspapers, including Makor Rishon, and Yediot Aharonot, and the websites Ynet and NRG.
Erlich lived in the settlement of Amona until it was evacuated in 2006. She currently lives in Ofra with her husband and five children.
Meanwhile, Bayit Yehudi and National Union continued their negotiations to run on a joint list for the next Knesset. Polls show the party will not pass the electoral threshold if they run separately.
National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich went to the Dead Sea, where Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz was due to speak at a conference, but said Peretz snubbed him. Smotrich lamented to KAN Bet radio on Wednesday morning that he was at the Dead Sea “without a change of clothes and tefillin,” but later tweeted a photo of himself with tefillin that he had apparently borrowed.