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April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘National Union’

To Unite the Nat’l Religious Camp, U.S.-Born Candidates Offer Themselves as a Sacrifice

Sunday, September 2nd, 2012

As the prospects for a merger between the two National Religious parties – the Jewish Home and the National Union – fall apart, the American-born candidate team, Ari Abramowitz and Jeremy Gimpel have said they would be willing to sacrifice their own potential spot on the Knesset list for the sake of unifying the national-religious camp.

“Our primary goal has never been to make it into the Knesset” but instead uniting the national-religious camp, the two said in a statement released to the press today.

Therefore they will not “endorse a leadership candidate that refuses to support unity between the factions within the religious Zionist camp”

In an e-mail statement they went further, cryptically stating that their support for unity may cost them a spot in the Knesset, but stating that it is “a price we are willing to pay.”

What’s the Hold up to Unity?

The unmentioned hold up to the potential merger referenced by Abramowitz and Gimpel is likely newcomer Naftali Bennett, who, according Lahav Harkov of the Jerusalem Post, said in a private meeting last week that if he were elected to the leadership of the Jewish Home, he would not allow three of the four Knesset Members of the National Union to run with the Jewish Home.

This would make it extremely unlikely that the National Union would agree to join with the Jewish home during the general elections.  It would essentially mean agreeing to disappear to make way for the Jewish Home, even though they currently have four Knesset seats to the Jewish Home’s three.

Unsurprisingly, the National Union’s Knesset Members did not react well to the alleged statements.

Bennett’s campaign told The Jewish Press over the phone today that no such statements were ever made.

Bennett, who is competing for party leadership against current party chairman Minister of Science Rabbi Daniel Hershkowitz and MK Z’vulon Orlev, posted a statement on his facebook page today stating that “To remove all doubt, I support and urge the unity of the camp and to unite with the National Union party. I will work towards it with all my might. I won’t bar a single person. Period.”

The origin of the prospects for merger of the Jewish Home and National Union began earlier this year. When shortly after Pesach it seemed that early elections were imminent, the parties signed an agreement to run as a united list.

Since early elections didn’t occur, the agreement no longer applies. Nevertheless, there are many who want the joint list, including National Union Chairman MK Yaacov Katz.

Katz is one of the three MKs whom Bennett reportedly said he would not allow to run with the Jewish Home. The others were MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michal Ben-Ari. Bennett would reportedly be alright with MK Uri Ariel, the remaining National Union member.

The three on Bennett’s blacklist are considered to have bombastic political temperaments, unwilling to censor themselves, and Ben Ari and Katz in particular make a point of sticking it their opponents.

Ben Ari, for example, brought illegal African immigrants to swimming pools in posh areas of Tel Aviv. During the debate over his proposed “Arrangement Law” Katz said that anyone voting against the bill had “a heart of stone.”

But according to a political strategist who wished to remain anonymous, Bennett is not concerned with the party’s image, but making room on the list for his own political allies.

“Bennett has made many colossal errors,” the strategist said, “the biggest of which is that he has too many people that endorsed him – too many people he owes favors to.”

For Israeli politicians, who are chosen not in general elections, but by internal party mechanisms – often, but not always, primary elections, the real contest is securing a realistic, if not high spot on their party’s list.

If for example, a party gets 12 seats in the Knesset (10 percent of the vote), unlucky candidate number 13, will not get into the Knesset, no matter how popular he may be among the general public. The higher the candidate is on the list, the more likely he is to get into the Knesset and the more likely he is to be named a minister in the government if his party joins the coalition.

National Union MKs Demand Defense of Jews on Mount of Olives

Monday, June 11th, 2012

National Union MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari toured eastern Jerusalem’s A-Tur neighborhood on Sunday afternoon in an attempt to highlight the need for security in the area, famous for housing the millennia-old Mount of Olives cemetery.

Ben Ari and Eldad called on police to provide better protection for Jews in the area, which is part of the municipality of Israel’s capital.

The Mount of Olives has been the site of several recent rock attacks against Jews by Arab residents.  Attacks have been launched against young children, as well as US congressmen in the area on tour.

No violence was reported during the National Union MKs’ tour.  However, 50 police officers were positioned along their travel route, to thwart attacks.

How the Right Snatched Defeat from the Jaws of Victory on Ulpana

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Watching the Givat Ulpana fiasco was like watching a train wreck about to happen. While the defeat in the Knesset today might still have happened in an alternate history, it definitely did not need to be the crushing defeat that we witnessed today.

On Wednesday, ahead of the Knesset vote, I visited the Ulpana Hunger Strikers outside the Knesset.

When Palestinians go on hunger strikes, you will never see bottles of drinks around them, not water, not juice, even if many of them are actually eating on the sly.

Sometimes, for the camera, you’ll see someone handing a Palestinian a small cup of water with a straw to sip from as he’s lying down in exhaustion.

You know these hunger strikers are serious because that’s what you see on TV.

But in the Ulpana tent, I saw something else entirely.

Large bottles of juice were sitting next to each striker while they were industriously typing away on their laptops as reporters filmed them. No one looked exhausted, no one looked tired, and, certainly, no one looked hungry.

One reporter even asked them to take the drinks off the table while she took some photos. They actually argued with her about it.

One can only hope they’ll be able to take off the weight they’ve gained from all that sugar water.

Can you be any less media savvy than that?

Unfortunately, you can, as the National Union party proved in their press conference just hours later.

In the Knesset conference room sat some of the National Union MKs (rumor has it that two of them haven’t talked to one another in months), along with some Likud MKs who defied their party head, the Prime Minister, to be there.

My jaw dropped when some of the National Union MKs began disparaging the entire Likud – as their Likud allies were sitting right next to them.

And that’s when the fighting began – while the cameras were rolling.

MK Michael Ben-Ari and MK Tzipi Hotoveli began to fight, Ben-Ari attacking the Likud and Hotoveli defending her party. And it’s not that Ben-Ari said anything technically incorrect, or that Hoteveli’s arguments held water (audience members even corrected some of her more obvious mistakes).

The whole thing was just terribly inappropriate.

It finally reached a point where Hotoveli got up and walked out, right in the middle of the press conference – but, to her credit, announced that she would still vote for the bill – despite what had just ensued.

Is this how the Right expects to win and keep allies? By spitting in their faces? By acting like children in front of reporters? By not showing even a little savvy?

If only it were just a matter of being unschooled in media issues. Unfortunately, it’s worse.

Two weeks ago, the National Union was prepared to bring their bill to save the Ulpana neighborhood to a vote. Back then, with most Right wing MKs making statements about saving the houses, it had a chance of passing.

But Netanyahu fooled them. He asked them to hold off for two weeks, to give him a chance to find a solution to the problem that would not catch the High Court’s ire. If he failed, they could go ahead with their bill.

Except Netanyahu wasn’t looking for a solution to save Givat Ulpana during those two weeks. He needed time to find a way to defeat the bill.

But the National Union, in their honesty and good faith, and naivete, if you ask me, gave Netanyahu the two weeks he needed to line up his troops and kill their bill.

Time and again, we see Israeli Right-wing politicians and activists playing touch football in a tackle game, and time and again they walk away with bloody noses, if not worse.

To save Givat Ulpana we need a quarterback and receivers and tackles willing to do whatever it takes to get the ball into the other team’s end zone.

The majority of the Jews in Israel are behind us, the majority of the Knesset members essentially agree with us — it’s our game to lose.

So stop playing like you’re still in Little League!

Peace Now: MKs Protesting Illegals Promoted Racism, Violence

Thursday, May 24th, 2012

The general director of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheier, has urged Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to open a criminal investigation into MKs Miri Regev (Likud), Danny Danon (Likud), and Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), for making speeches Wednesday in Tel Aviv he says incite racism and violence.

The speeches were made to approximately 1,000 protesters in South Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood, in response to a wave of illegal immigration and associated surge in crime in the area.  While some illegal immigrants have made the trek to Israel from Sudan and Eritrea to escape persecution, others have taken advantage of Israel’s high level of humanitarian aid and labor opportunities.

In her speech, Regev made comments such as “the infiltrators are a cancer in our body”, and advocated their deportation from Israel.  Twelve protesters were arrested during the event, which deteriorated into rioting.

According to local residents in south Tel Aviv, the streets have become unsafe, with women and the elderly afraid to walk outside.    On May 15, 4 Eritrean men were charged with raping a 19 year old Israeli woman in a parking lot in the area, one of several such incidents which have reportedly occurred since the area become a haven for illegal African immigrants.

Religious Zionists Seeking Reunification Amid Pressures of Blitz Elections

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

National Union Chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), during a House speech on Wednesday in which he presented his bill to apply Israeli sovereignty over settlements in Judea and Samaria, said: “Next week, at a press conference shared by the Jewish Home and National Union factions, we will announce, officially and together, that we’ll be running jointly in the next election.”

The Jewish Home faction (Chairman Uri Orbach) with its three MKs represents the old National Religious Party (NRP), which was formed as a merger between Mizrachi and HaPoel HaMizraci, the two religious Zionist movements. NRP, or Mafdal (its acronym in Hebrew) participated in every Israeli coalition government until 1992.

The National Union with its four MKs was formed in 1999 by former members of the right-wing, pro-settlement Moledet, Tkuma and Herut parties. But Chairman Katz’s roots are in the historic NRP.

In a broad brush, today’s National Union represents the more right-wing segment of the traditional Religious Zionist camp, while Jewish Home is further to the left within the same camp.

Wedged between the two Haredi parties, United Torah Judaism (5 MKs) and Shas (11 MKs) and the largely secular, Zionist factions to their left, National Union and Jewish Home hope to attract a larger cut of the vote than they would have running separately.

One group of voters they may be able to draw on are Likud activist Moshe Feiglin’s Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish leadership) followers, who have seen their leader’s persistent attempts to influence their party crashing against a powerful pro-Netanyahu apparatus. In the 2008 primaries, Feiglin collected enough votes to qualify for the 20th spot on the Likud slate, high enough to enter

the Knesset—only to be outmaneuvered by the party leadership and ending up at the 36th spot and outside the legislature.

“There is no dispute today that the national religious public is leading in the fields of education, defense and settlement,” MK Katz said from the Knesset podium Wednesday. “This huge public cries out for a liaison between its representatives of all different shades and colors in the Knesset, who are aspiring to the same goals and in whose hearts is burning a love for the people of Israel, the Torah of Israel and the land of Israel.”

“In the next Knesset,” the National Union Chairman vowed, “we will bring this robust tradition as a double-digit faction into the coalition government.”

The reunion couldn’t come at a more difficult moment for both factions and their particular slice of the voting public. The settlement movement in Judea and Samaria is under an ongoing attack by the left, by elements inside the Likud government, and by the international community. And while decrees against individual outposts are being blocked, the seemingly pro-settlement majority in the Knesset and the government has been unable or unwilling to introduce a radically pro-settlement policy.

The weakness of the religious Zionist camp is reflected in two polls that came out this week, one published by Israel Today and the other by Yedioth Aharonoth, in which the two factions either fared worse than they had done in the last election or just held on to their current numbers. In other words, running together they could only do better than running separately.

In that vein, it was announced Wednesday that Jewish Home Chaiman Uri Orbach is assembling a transitional team, together with the National Union, in preparation for a united list in the September 4 election.

According to Orbach, “It shouldn’t be that the internal machinations within each faction detract from the main goal – increasing the united force of Religious Zionism in the Knesset.”

But it is unclear whether, despite their aspirations and best intentions, both faction will manage to put together an accepted list of candidates, much less agree on a campaign strategy and campaign staff in time for what promises to be a politically charged summer. Benjamin Netanyahu may have had bigger foes in mind—Avigdor Libeman, Shelly Yachimovich, Shaul Mofaz, and Yair Lapid—when he decided to go for an early election at the peak of his popularity, but, inadvertently, he has also managed to make life very difficult for these two smaller foes as well.

The Jewish Home faction is facing a procedural hurdle on the way to the longed-for reunification, in the form of the NRP membership census which was scheduled for this summer. The Jewish Home Knesset faction still represents the historic Mafdal, whose own apparatus is in charge of the party census and primaries. Getting their own bureaucracy to speed up the works so that the primaries can be conducted in time for the early election is turning out to be quite a task for Orbach and his two Knesset partners.

Yesterday, Arutz 7 reported on a particularly terse note from Jewish Home MK Zvulun Orlev to the chairman of the census and primaries committee, Rabbi Danny Tropper, urging him to hurry the proceedings and reminding him of Orlev’s countless warnings earlier this year, that there’s going to be an early election and the party must work fast to meet the challenge.

Both Religious Zionist Knesset Factions Celebrate the Mimouna; Ketzele: We Run Together or I Quit

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Members of the two Knesset religious Zionist factions National Union and The Jewish Home celebrated the Mimouna together Saturday night in Lod, in a show of unity.

Chairman of the National Union MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzele), MK Zvulun Orlev, Uri Orbach, and former MK Nissan Slomiansky, visited the home of Aaron Attias, founder and one of the leaders of Lod’s Gar’in Torani and CEO of the pre-military academy in the city, who is widely influential in bringing unity to the religious Zionist ranks.

MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzele) repeated his earlier announcement that if the two factions do not run as one, he would remove himself from the campaign.

Hundreds of activists who had arrived to celebrate the Mimouna applauded the MKs announcements that there was no other option for their two factions but to run a united list in the next Knesset elections.

‘Jewish Home’ Blues

Monday, March 12th, 2012

The Knesset’s Jewish Home faction is in danger of splitting, following the internal political maneuvering that has taken place in the National Union.

The National Religious camp has seven seats that are spread across six parties in two factions. The previous attempt at a merger before the 2009 elections failed and led to the formation of more political parties.

Jewish Home is made up of rookie MKs Daniel Hershkowitz and Uri Orbach that were brought in as compromise candidates to complement the National Religious Party’s veteran MK Zevulun Orlev. Hershkowitz and Orbach have been trading public attacks with Orlev over the course of the last few weeks, with an escalation yesterday when the NRP decided against some of the Jewish Home’s guidelines for internal primary elections to set up its list for the next general Knesset election.

Following leadership races in Likud, Labor, and Meretz, and with Kadima’s internal primary elections a couple of weeks away, many in the National Religious camp want their parties to get their act together. National Union Chairman MK Yaakov (Katzeleh) Katz and Jewish Home Chairman MK Hershkowitz have worked hard to bring their factions together in a joint list for the next elections.

MK Katz and MK Uri Ariel’s Tekuma party are settling their differences within the National Union with Hatikva Party MK Arieh Eldad and Eretz Yisrael Shelanu MK Michael Ben Ari. MK Eldad is secular, but his Hatikva Party does have a National Religious following. Eretz Yisrael Shelanu is a merger of Baruch Marzel’s Jewish National Front party and the Chassidic followers of Chabad’s Rabbi Wolpo. Analysts agree that National Union Faction Manager and Moledet Party front-runner Uri Bank still has electoral value, although it is not clear if he will be slated in a realistic spot for the next Knesset by the powers-that-be.

Over the years, many Israeli National Religious and Modern Orthodox national camp members have grown tired of keeping up with their communities’ smaller parties and have gradually lost votes to the Likud and Yisrael Beitenu. There is hope among those who have stayed loyal to the smaller parties that they will overcome their differences and run on a joint list. Insiders have suggested that a new political superstar at the head of the list is needed to accomplish this.

Time will tell us who is in, who is out, and if there will be any room for fresh new candidates.

Nationalist Camp Grows to 76 seats in Recent Poll, Likud Opens Big Lead with 39 Seats

Sunday, February 19th, 2012

The nationalist camp grows to 76 seats according to a poll conducted by Professor Avi Degani, President of the Geocartography group, on February 17, 2012. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud jumps to a term-high 39 seats, surpassing his previous high of 38 in early January. Foreign Minister Liberman’s Yisrael Beitenu finishes second with 13 seats, a drop of two from their current position and a seat above their term-low 12. Opposition Leader Livni’s Kadima, which is in the middle of a primary battle, drops to 12 seats, a loss of more than half of their current seats. Labor captures 12 seats as well, and Shas rounds out the top five parties with nine seats. Former journalist Yair Lapid’s party drops to six seats, its lowest showing since September. If the National Union and Jewish Home would merge before elections, the poll places them as the fifth largest party with ten seats. According to the poll, Netanyahu could form a coalition of 62 seats with Liberman, National Union and Jewish Home without the need for any ultra-orthodox or center-left parties.

If elections were held today who would you vote for?

Current Knesset seats in [brackets]

39 [27] Likud

13 [15] Yisrael Beitenu

12 [28] Kadima

12 [08] Labor

09 [11] Shas

06 [---] Yair Lapid Party

05 [04] National Union

05 [03] Jewish Home

05 [05] Yahadut Hatorah/UTJ

04 [03] Meretz

10 [11] Balad, Hadash and Ra’am-Ta’al

00 [05] Independence

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/knesset/knesset-corner/nationalist-camp-grows-to-76-seats-in-recent-poll-likud-opens-big-lead-with-39-seats/2012/02/19/

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