New right-wing party aims to promote Greater Israel
Eretz Yisrael Shelanu considers joining forces with Marzel's Jewish Front.
By MATTHEW WAGNER
The already splintered Right will be split further, now that a new party calling itself Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Land of Israel) announced that it will run in the upcoming national elections.
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpo, a leading activist against all territorial compromises to Palestinians, confirmed Wednesday that he and other like-minded activists had created a new list.
Wolpo has strong ties to the "Messianic" Chabad community, which believes that the last leader of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who passed away in 1994, is the Messiah.
He also has ties with more stridently right-wing elements in the settler movement, including Baruch Marzel's neo-Kach party The Jewish Front.
Wolpo said that he and Marzel, a follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane, would probably join forces.
He said that he decided to establish a party after "all other parties abandoned the fight to maintain a whole Land of Israel."
"Habayit Hayehudi [the former NRP-NU] refused to promise that it would not join any government that plans to make territorial compromises," said Wolpo. "They are embarrassed to talk openly about the Land of Israel."
Wolpo said that if Habayit Hayehudi made such a promise, he would scrap plans to field a separate list.
Meanwhile, Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer, who is vying for a place on the Labor Party list, said that his organization would appeal the registration of Wolpo's party.
"A party that does not respect the law should not be allowed to become a parliament member," said Oppenheimer.
Oppenheimer cited public statements by Wolpo calling on IDF soldiers to refuse orders to evacuate Jewish homes and calls to populate illegal settlements.
Oppenheimer said that Peace Now, a group that calls for the immediate withdrawal from all parts of Israel conquered during the 1967 Six Day War, would complain to either the Parties Registrar or to the Central Election Committee against Eretz Yisrael Shelanu.
Rabbi MK Benny Elon, one of four candidates vying to chair Habayit Hayehudi, said that Wolpo's party would weaken the Right.
"It is a syndrome of the Right that no matter how hard we try to unite there are those who feel the need to have their own party," said Elon, referring both to Wolpo's party and to MK Aryeh Eldad's Hatikva party.
Regarding Habayit Hayehudi's decision to emphasize Jewish education and Jewish identity more than the Greater Israel message, Elon said, "we want to reach out to a larger constituency.
"I do not belittle the importance of the Land of Israel but we want to grow beyond the narrow framework of settlements."
In past elections small, more extreme right-wing parties have generally failed to pass the minimum electoral threshold, but have diverted votes away from larger right-wing parties.
For example, in 1992 Tehiya and other small parties, including one headed by Rabbi Moshe Levinger of Hebron, all failed to obtain the minimum needed votes to enter the Knesset. In the last election in 2006, both Herut and Marzel's Jewish National Front failed to pass the threshold.
Wolpo has made controversial statements bordering on incitement against politicians. Just recently he said that the Jewish people's real enemy is the State of Israel.
Clarifying his comments, Wolpo said that he meant the present political leadership.
"I don't mind repeating what I said. Any leadership that is willing to destroy the house of Noam Federman but refuses to destroy the homes of Palestinian terrorists is an enemy to the Jewish people," said Wolpo.
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