Two senior Israeli cabinet ministers say they are forming a new party to run in April’s elections.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked announced on Motzei Shabbos that they are breaking away from the Bayit Yehudi party, a monumental move that will likely divide the Religious and Zionist right-wing parties in Israel.
Bennett has been the leader of the Bayit Yehudi since 2012, while Shaked was ranked number 2.
At a Motzei Shabbos press conference, they announced a new party called “Hayemin Hechadash – The New Right”, which they hope will appeal to the religious as well as secular right-wing voters who could feel comfortable voting for a party that was solely right-wing politically regardless of religious affiliation.
According to Israeli election law, all party splits need to be determined within three days of the Knesset voting to disband.
Shaked said during the press conference: “I received a lot of love and acceptance from the religious community. The Bayit Yehudi party has turned into a significant tour-de-force in the past six years. It is a small party in number but has very strong influence. We prevented the further development of a Palestinian State, We prevented the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners and terrorists. In 2014 we put a stop to this and since then not a single terrorist has been released. We created an historic revolution in the court system.
Naftali Bennett said: “We very much miss Rabbi Ronsky and Uri Orbach. The Bayit Yehudi party has turned into a force that is very influential in Israel, but over the past year, the era of our influence has concluded and has not returned. If in the past we were successful at preventing the development of a Palestinian State, now, in relation to this, we have lost our ability to influence. The Prime Minister understands that he has the Religious Zionist movement in his pocket. We were forced to stay in the government in opposition to what we actually believe. We, therefore, lost the ability to make a significant change in policy. This was the case with the illegal Arab construction in Khan al-Amar, where the Prime Minister canceled a decision by the High Court of Justice and said that within weeks said that the buildings would be torn down, and still nothing happened. This was also the case when the Prime Minister decided to hand Hamas 15 million dollars a month. He gave in to them and offered protection money. This is what will happen again after the next round of elections. We reached a zenith of influence for the right-wing and since then we have been crashing.”
Shaked continued and said: “We failed at raising the banner of meaningful cooperation between secular and religious people. We tried with all our hearts to create this cooperation and we failed.
The two ministers said that their aim is to pick up the mandates that were lost by the Likud and went instead to other parties that pretend to be right-wing but are actually left-wing.
Shaked added: “Naftali Bennett and I have been partners for 12 years now. We succeed because we share the same ideals and we trust and believe in one another. There is such a thing as trust in politics and it comes from people who have different backgrounds. We also believe that there can be partnerships between different parts of Israel. I am secular and I served in Golani, there I got to know religious soldiers who I am friends with until today. I have never checked to see whether the person I am going to be working with is religious or secular.”
Bennett said: “I was born into a secular family to parents who were very far away from religion. A Zionist spark burned in their hearts and they moved to Israel. For many years I grew up in the Bnei Akiva movement. My entire purpose and everything that I am is aimed and bringing people together.”
Sources in the Likud trashed the announcement of the new party and said: “Are there people who do not remember the lesson learned from the 1992 elections where the right-wing destroyed itself by fragmenting into a myriad of parties. This is how a left-wing government rose to power and caused the decimation that was the Oslo Accords. The only way to ensure a right-wing government is to vote for only the Likud party, led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.”
The Bayit Yehudi party issued a statement wishing luck to Bennett and Shaked but asked its voters to continue to vote for those who represent it namely the Bayit Yehudi.
“The Bayit Yehudi party thanks Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked for the past five years of their service on behalf of the people of Israel. We believe that they will have many successes leading The New Right.
The Bayit Yehudi will be preparing in the coming days for its future while it is clear to all that we will establish a list of quality public individuals who are talented and worthy of leadership of the Jewish people in the 21st Knesset.
In accordance with party law, a committee has been established that is comprised of the Director of the faction, the director of the elections committee, director of the municipal committee and a member of the party’s court. It will be administered by the CEO of the party and director of the secretariat.
The committee will meet on Sunday and will weigh the options the now face the party and bring them to the central committee for a decision. A special team will also be set up to help run the dialogue with our fellow party the National Union in order to reach an agreement, in the near future, after the new party chairpeople will be elected in each of the two parties.
Members of the Religious Zionist movement, who feel committed to our established party are invited to join us on this journey. With God’s help we will accomplish and succeed at our goals.”
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)