Bennett-Ariel meeting yields no results

Talks on merger expected to end by weekend.

 Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett and Tekuma leader Uri Ariel made further efforts to merge their parties’ lists ahead of the next election Tuesday, to no avail.
The two met in Jerusalem for what the parties’ spokesman called a “substantive” meeting, and expect to finish negotiating by the weekend.
On Monday night, Bennett’s camp proposed that Tekuma – the more rabbinically oriented party that ran on a joint list with the national-religious Bayit Yehudi in the last election – receive four of the first 20 slots on a joint list. The fourth person would a candidate Bennett and Ariel chose together.
In addition, Ariel would be promised the list’s second ministerial slot, if it is in the next coalition.
Bayit Yehudi candidates have to run in an open primary, scheduled to take place January 14.
A senior Tekuma source took issue with what he said were the Bayit Yehudi’s attempts to paint the negotiations as being about how many jobs Ariel’s party would get.
“The negotiations are about our position in the Bayit Yehudi,” the Tekuma source said. “Bennett wants to weaken us by giving us four spots that are unlikely to get into the Knesset.
We were four seats in the joint 12-seat faction, which keeps growing in the polls, and now he wants to shrink us?” A source close to Bennett said in response that if Tekuma were given six seats, they would immediately accept.
However, the Tekuma source said there are many issues that still need to be negotiated and that Bennett’s “bear hug” of Ariel is just a way to avoid blame if the parties end up running separately.
“Divisions hurt religious-Zionism [in politics] and the public knows it, so Bennett wants to blame Ariel,” he stated. “In addition, if he says ‘Uri the extremist doesn’t get along with me,’ he’ll attract more secular voters.”
As for rumors that Ariel may join former Shas leader Eli Yishai’s new party, Tekuma’s spokesman said that Ariel has not met with Yishai since the election was called two weeks ago, but that he does not reject the possibility.
Meanwhile, Yishai’s spiritual patron Rabbi Meir Mazuz said Tuesday it would not be a good idea to have a women running on the electoral list of Yishai’s new party.
“There are sources in the Talmud and from [mediaeval rabbinic authority Rabbi Moses] Maimonides...For a woman to be elected, that is to say, for a woman would speak in the name of the [haredi] community, this has not been the case up till now and we don’t want to innovate,” he said on the Kol Barama haredi radio station Yishai said Monday that his new party, likely to be called Yahad (together), will unite various sectors of the population, including Ashkenazi, Sephardi, haredi and national religious representatives.