Bayit Yehudi to hold leadership primaries, Netanyahu interferes

Yamina set to split on Tuesday

Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Bayit Yehudi leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The 960 central committee members of the Bayit Yehudi Party will vote on Tuesday to select a new leader, in place of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Rafi Peretz, who is quitting politics.
Bayit Yehudi does not cross the threshold on its own in any poll. But the race is seen as a bellwether on the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has interfered in the primary.
Netanyahu persuaded Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Hagit Moshe to enter the race. If she wins, she is expected to pursue a bond with the Religious Zionist Party (formerly the National Union), whose leader, MK Bezalel Smotrich, at Netanyahu’s request, decided not to run with Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party.
The prime minister hopes parties led by Smotrich and Moshe running together will cross the 3.25% electoral threshold and join a coalition he would build.
Moshe’s competition, former Bayit Yehudi director-general Nir Orbach, is close to Bennett and has called for Bayit Yehudi and Smotrich’s party to run together with Yamina under the leadership of Bennett, who calls for Netanyahu to be replaced.
“I consider it a compliment that between dealing with the coronavirus and signing peace accords, the prime minister finds time to deal with who will head Bayit Yehudi,” Orbach said in an interview with the Religious Zionist website Kipa. “This proves we are very relevant.”
Moshe told The Jerusalem Post’s Peggy Cidor that she had long intended to enter national politics eventually, but she advanced her shift to the national level at Netanyahu’s request.
“I have a clear idea of what has to be done, so yes: I was asked by the prime minister to run, and I am running for something I believe in,” she said.
There will be voting in 29 polling places across the country, including two in Jerusalem, from 2 p.m. to 8 a.m., despite the lockdown. The results will be tabulated on computers and are set to be released within an hour after polls close.
Regardless of the results of the race, the Knesset House Committee will vote on Tuesday to approve a split in Yamina. Smotrich has asked to break away from the five-seat faction along with his ally, MK Ofir Sofer. Yamina would remain with Bennett and MKs Ayelet Shaked and Matan Kahana.