Nat'l Union upset by Orlev remarks

MK Elon: Orlev statement to 'Post' was a mistake, but the door is still open.

zevulun orlev 298 88 aj (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
zevulun orlev 298 88 aj
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
National Religious Party leader Zevulun Orlev's statement to The Jerusalem Post Friday that it is "worse" to sacrifice a state religious school than a settlement, has upset some members of the National Union, harming ongoing efforts by members of both parties to come to an agreement over terms for a joint list in the upcoming elections. "It casts a shadow" over the possibility of an alliance, but doesn't destroy it, National Union MK Arye Eldad told the Post on Sunday. He added that since the National Union is the larger party, it could prevent such attitudes from prevailing if the two joined forces. Orlev's spokesman told the Post that the NRP leader had not meant to make it seem as if he wanted to sacrifice settlements, but was rather referring to his order of priorities, which he said ranks education, Jewish identity and welfare above the issue of Judea and Samaria. National Union leader Benny Elon said the statement was a mistake but that the door was still open for the two parties to come together. "I'm saying to Zevulun, he has to be a little bit careful with his words. What is the meaning of the destruction of a settlement? It's the destruction of a few schools and a few synagogues and a few yeshivot." Elon, along with Yisrael Beiteinu Party leader Avigdor Lieberman, denied reports in the media Sunday that former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu was looking to form a new party with them should he lose Monday's Likud leadership race. There was no point even discussing the idea of joint activity with the Likud before that race was over, he said. "I wish [Netanyahu] success in the Likud. The Likud was a big supermarket, now it has become a grocery store, but it has no identity," said Elon. "They have people that are pro-disengagement and people that are against." Elon asserted that there was much more in common between the National Union and the NRP than between the National Union and the Likud. It was also unclear, for instance, where the Likud stands on issues of Jewish faith and the nature of the Jewish state. If he had to chose, Elon said, he preferred a Likud party led by Netanyahu than Silvan Shalom, because he feared that Shalom would follow Sharon's path and would lack the will to thwart any further settlement evacuations. All parties that support a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria had to unite on that issue, he said. Lieberman, a former Likud member and Netanyahu bureau chief, also said he had no plans to form a joint party with Netanyahu and had held no discussions in that regard. In an interview with Israel Radio, Lieberman said he had heard about such plans only through the media and had held no talks along those lines. "Netanyahu and Silvan Shalom are welcome to join Yisrael Beiteinu, even in the second or third position if they want," he said lightly. Indeed, Yisrael Beiteinu was not looking to join forces with any other party, he said. "The central fight is between us and Kadima," he claimed.