A number of dati leumi rabbonim during recent weeks have become active in bridging gaps that exist between Bayit Yehudi and its partner, Ichud Leumi. Perhaps with the ongoing coalition crisis surrounding a chareidi draft law, there is a smell of early elections in the air, prompting the rabbonim to act.
The rabbonim, who identify with the Chardal (Chareidi-Dati Leumi) camp of the dati leumi community have held a number of meetings. This includes Shomron Chief Rabbi and Rosh Yeshivat Hesder Elon Moreh Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who calls for an end to efforts to integrate Ichud Leumi into the Bayit Leumi party.
In fact, Rabbi Levanon believes Ichud Leumi, which is headed by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, will earn more seats if its runs independent of Bayit Yehudi in the next elections because the party is more right-wing, both politically and religiously. Hence, he feels if they split, the two will earn more votes, attracting their respective constituents, leading to a larger dati leumi representation in the next Knesset. However, opponents are quick to remind Rabbi Levanon of the trauma of the last elections, when the Yachad party, with was religiously right-wing of Bayit Leumi, lost 125,000 votes as it failed to earn sufficient votes to meet the minimum threshold to enter the Knesset.
Rav Levanon explained to the Srugim website that base on the last elections, the dati leumi tzibur lost four Knesset seats. He feels uniting the two parties will not result in recovering these votes. He feels if the two are mutually agreeable to run independent of one another, without attacking the other during the campaign, the results could very well be the recovery of the four seats.
Do you envision Ichud Leumi teaming up with Eli Yishai?
Absolutely not. I do not see this as a possibility. At present, Ichud Leumi officials fear they may not meet the minimum threshold if they run without Bayit Yehudi and this needs to be examined to determine if it is an accurate scenario. Rav Levanon fear the ‘Chardalnikim’ in the dati leumi tzibur will not vote for Bayit Yehudi headed by Naftali Bennet and his is concerned with losing these voters to another party. He also points out that in all the polls, without exception, Shas is ruined and will be a small party if it managed to enter the next Knesset. He is concerned with the religious Zionists, who will truly be left without a party representing them and therefore, these votes may be lost to another party.
Rav Levanon stresses the Chardal tzibur is looking for a more religious and not a more politically right-wing party and this must be addressed.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)