National Union, NRP still balk at unity

Obstacle is NU wanting to prevent NRP from leaving within 2 years of elections.

Despite the intervention of heavyweight religious Zionist rabbis and the collective traumas of Amona, the National Union and the National Religious Party have failed to join forces. Since the violence at Amona last week, pressure has been building in the religious Zionist camp for the NRP and the National Union to run on a joint list for the upcoming Knesset election. Last week, Rabbi Avraham Shapira, a former Ashkenazi chief rabbi, failed to convince the two parties to put aside their differences and unite. The main stumbling block is the National Union's insistence, and the NRP's refusal, to unite the two parties in a way that would make it impossible for the NRP to leave the National Union for at least two years after the elections. A National Union spokesman said his party's MKs were concerned that the more moderate NRP would leave the united list to join a government that advanced territorial concessions. "We could not face our voters in Ofra, Psagot or Shiloh if we allowed the NRP to do such a thing," the spokesman said. The NRP considers the National Union's demand to be an attempt to erase the NRP from the political map. National Union MK's Arye Eldad, Benny Elon, Effi Eitam and Uri Ariel, who were all at the forefront of settler resistance at Amona, consolidated settler support for their party. Current polls forecast the National Union receiving six mandates. Polls forecast no more than three mandates for the NRP, which appeals to a more moderate religious Zionist constituency. Some polls even foresee the NRP failing to pass the electoral threshold.