Bloch drops out of Beit Shemesh race

Bayit Yehudi candidate says party went "behind her back" to court Cohen, withdraws to prevent "dividing Zionist camp."

Aliza Bloch 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Aliza Bloch 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Aliza Bloch, until recently the Bayit Yehudi candidate for mayor of Beit Shemesh, officially ended her candidacy on Tuesday evening, just under a week after party leaders brought in opponent Eli Cohen (Shemesh Hadasha) to head a joint list.
Cohen and Bloch were considered the leading candidates in the race to topple Mayor Moshe Abutbol. While the pair had signed an agreement that the winner of a poll held last week would represent Beit Shemesh’s “Zionist camp” against Shas’s Abutbol, Bayit Yehudi party leaders concluded a deal with Cohen, placing him at the head of a joint list after the first day of polling.
Cohen and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett had been in talks for several days ahead of last Thursday’s announcement of the deal meant to “unite the Zionist camp in Beit Shemesh.”
After the initial announcement, Bloch accused her party of courting Cohen “behind my back” and said that she had refused an offer to run as Cohen’s deputy.
“Over the course of the discussion, much to my shock, it became clear that the Bayit Yehudi people had already closed a deal to join forces with Eli Cohen before speaking with me about it,” she informed supporters in a message on her Facebook page.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bloch announced that she was withdrawing from the race to avoid “dividing the Zionist camp” Bloch stated that she hopes that her campaign was not in vain, as “we were able to bring to the public consciousness that Beit Shemesh belongs first and foremost to its people, and this town is the home of all of us not just of a particular group.” We must not forget that... there is life after the elections,” Bloch said.
After Bloch’s announcement, Cohen asked her to join him as number two on the joint Bayit Yehudi/Shemesh Hadasha list but did not yet receive a response, according to a party activist who spoke with The Jerusalem Post.
“I thank Aliza Bloch for her blessing and her support on a personal and communal level,” Cohen wrote on Facebook.
“I call on her to be to a real partner... to lead the city for all of the community.”
Abutbol was quick to go after disaffected Bloch supporters, saying that their “pain is close to my heart.”
“This is a breaking point for the men and women that worked with much faith and passion and were surprised to discover the ugly side of politics,” he said. “That is why I call you to join hands [with me] for the future of the city.”
MK Dov Lipman, a local and an ardent opponent of Abutbol, called on voters to “put the ‘primary season’ aside and unite behind Eli Cohen for mayor.”
“I am excited about the upcoming election and know that through hard work from every single one of us, we will win and save our city,” Lipman said. “I know of a large group of haredim who support Eli’s candidacy and with all of us working together – from moderate haredim through secular – we will take back our city in October. I look forward to helping Eli in the campaign and to working together with him to assist Beit Shemesh on a Knesset level once he is elected, with God’s help.”