National Union splits from Habayit Hayehudi

MK Uri Ariel, No. 3 on Habayit Hayehudi's list, joins forces with MK Arye Eldad's Hatikva party.

uri Ariel 248.88 (photo credit: Knesset)
uri Ariel 248.88
(photo credit: Knesset)
Rabbis and politicians identified with the National Union decided Thursday evening to break with Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) and create a party that takes a more hard-line stance on Greater Israel and settlements. MK Uri Ariel, who had received the No. 3 slot on Habayit Hayehudi's list, decided to heed the advice of Hebron-Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior and join forces with MK Arye Eldad's Hatikva party. Both lawmakers represent the National Union in the outgoing Knesset. "We plan to create a strong right-wing party that will proudly fly the orange flag of Greater Israel," said Shmuel Klein, a spokesman for Ariel, referring to the color of the former Gaza Coast Regional Council that has became the symbol of resistance to any territorial concessions. "At a time when settlements are in a real danger of being dismantled, we must proclaim the message that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people," Klein added. He said that the party, which will use the name National Union, would attempt to either incorporate Baruch Marzel's Eretz Yisrael Shelanu party or persuade Marzel not to run. In the last election in 2006, Marzel's Jewish Front party received 25,000 votes, half of the minimum needed to enter the legislature, and so its votes were not counted in allotting Knesset seats. Daniel Hershkovitz, chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, said of Ariel, "We cannot force anyone to remain with us. Not everyone has the ability to look beyond narrow parochial interests to a broader vision of unity." Commenting on the intervention of Lior and other rabbis in political decision-making, Hershkovitz, himself a rabbi, said that he has always opposed giving spiritual leaders excessive influence in political matters. But he added that the split had less to do with rabbinic intervention and more to do with the narrow interests of certain politicians who were unhappy with their low positions on Habayit Hayehudi's candidates list. "The religious Zionist public will not forgive Uri Ariel. He is someone with exalted words of unity on his lips and the sword of dissent in his hand," Habayit Hayehudi's official spokesman said. "He is endangering the Jewish character of the State of Israel by ignoring all the unity agreements [that he signed] and turning his back on the decisions made by Habayit Hayehudi's public council. "Those who work for dissent will pay the price in the elections."