Bayit Yehudi activists: Split in party is near

Uri Ariel calls for unity among religious Zionists.

Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel
Naftali Bennett’s Bayit Yehudi party will split ahead of the next general election, and more conservative elements in the party will run with the National Union, Bayit Yehudi activists said at Tuesday night’s National Union convention in Jerusalem.
The National Union, which is more right-wing and religious than Bayit Yehudi, has two MKs in the current Knesset who ran on the Bayit Yehudi slate in the 2015 election. But Bennett has said they would have to run in the Bayit Yehudi primary and would no longer be given slots on the party’s list.
Among the several hundred men and several women who attended the convention at Jerusalem’s Leonardo Hotel were Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev, former National Religious Party MK Yigal Bibi and key activists in Bayit Yehudi. The activists warned that they could formally depart for the National Union if Bennett doesn’t change his ways.
“If Bennett keeps on pushing to become a second Likud with Arabs and gays, the split is only a matter of time,” a key Bayit Yehudi activist said at the event.
National Union leader Uri Ariel told the crowd he had reached out to Bennett and that he wanted to continue the partnership.
“Unity is a value,” Ariel said. “It can bring much greater achievements. We in the National Union will fight for unity in our religious Zionist camp. We will do everything possible to bring unity that will bring success to the State of Israel in the land of Israel.”
But the National Union took a step away from Bayit Yehudi, when the convention’s delegates passed a diplomatic plan that Bennett would not support. The plan calls for annexing all of Judea and Samaria, while Bennett backs annexing only in Israeli-controlled Area C. Bennett is also not in favor of encouraging the relocation of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs, a key element in the plan that was initiated by MK Bezalel Smotrich.
“A Palestinian state will not be formed, and it won’t happen, because the people of Israel don’t want it to happen,” Smotrich said. “Israeli society is ripe for new ideas. We are more right and ethical than any movement in the world. We can relinquish guilt feelings and start a new path. We will say it clearly without stammering. It is realistic.”
Smotrich said the government must tell Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas that his people could have a good life of prosperity in Israel, but it will only be possible when they give up their national aspirations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the convention and reached out to the National Union with a video he taped before leaving for Argentina.
“NU we are building everywhere in the land, because it is our land,” Netanyahu said.