Bennett's Yamina party formally splits

Effort underway to unite religious Zionists without Bennett

Yamina leader Naftali Bennett is seen speaking during the vote to dissolve the Knesset, on December 2, 2020. (photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett is seen speaking during the vote to dissolve the Knesset, on December 2, 2020.
(photo credit: KNESSET SPOKESPERSON/DANI SHEM TOV)
The Knesset House Committee voted on Wednesday morning to split the five-seat Yamina faction into two at the request of MK Bezalel Smotrich.
Yamina will remain with three MKs: Its leader Bennett, its faction head, Ayelet Shaked, and Matan Kahana.
The Religious Zionist Party faction will be composed of Smotrich and Ofir Sofer.
The vote passed 10 to zero, with one abstention.
Smotrich intends to try to unite, ahead of the March 23 election, with the Bayit Yehudi and Otzma Yehudit parties, while Yamina will run separately.
Bayit Yehudi’s central committee elected Deputy Jerusalem Mayor Hagit Moshe as the party’s new leader on Tuesday, replacing Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Rafi Peretz, who is retiring from politics.
Smotrich congratulated Moshe, and invited her to meet on Wednesday to discuss the possibility of their two parties running together on a joint list in the next election. The two did meet but no details were released.
“I am convinced that, together, we will bring immense enthusiasm to the Religious Zionist Party and Israel’s ideological Right,” he said in a statement.
Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben-Gvir told Army Radio on Wednesday that “we have a chance to win six or seven mandates.”
But Moshe responded that, for now, she would unite Bayit Yehudi only with Smotrich’s party.
Aaron Reich contributed to this report