Following the departure of party leader Naftali Bennett and Minister Ayelet Shaked a nd MK Shuli Muallem, the Bayit Yehudi party has elected a new leader. The person selected to fill the position is former IDF Chief Rabbi Rafi Peretz.
Peretz served as the Israeli army’s chief rabbi from 2010 until 2016. He was nominated by a public committee formed by the Bayit Yehudi to select a new party chair. The previous favourite was Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely from the Likud party. Hotovely declined overtures from party leaders to head the faction as it would require her to leave her own party.
The party released a statement to the media on Sunday announcing the nomination. Peretz’s candidacy will now be brought to the Jewish Home central committee for approval on Monday night. The party’s Knesset list for the April 9th elections will also be brought before the committee for approval at that time.
A spokesperson from the Bayit Yehudi said that some 70 candidates had been considered to lead the party and that Rabbi Peretz was chosen after a “long and thorough selection process.”
Rabbi Peretz served as an Israel Air Force helicopter pilot during his mandatory IDF service.
Rabbi Peretz is married to Michal and has 12 children. The family lived in Gush Katif in the town of Bnei Atzmon prior to the 2005 Gaza evacuation. Peretz currently lives in Naveh, a town that was founded when Bnei Atzmon was relocated following the evacuation of Gush Katif. Bnei Atzmon was founded by residents of the Sinai Peninsula who were likewise evicted after the Camp David Accords.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)