The leadership of Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) on Wednesday morning decided in an emergency meeting to accept the demand of several major religious-Zionist rabbis to join a technical bloc of the National Union and the Habayit Hayehudi, in spots 5 and 8 on the combined Knesset slate.
Earlier on Wednesday, the party’s religious authorities, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu and Rabbi Yehuda Kroitzer appealed to Otzma’s leaders, Michael Ben Ari, Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir to do everything they can to help forge a large religious right-wing camp, and accept the relatively low spots on the slate which had been offered them by their prospective artners.
According to the Otzma rabbis, “despite the fact that the proposal by the members of Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union was unfair, since the fate of the Land of Israel is on the balance sheet, the proposal should be accepted.”
The Otzma leaders issued a statement saying, “For the sake of the Land of Israel and on behalf of the vast community calling for a union on the right – so that a leftist government would not take over, God forbid – the Jewish Power Party decided to accept a proposal to join Habayit Hayehudi and the National Union in spots 5 and 8, this despite all the data, and most recent surveys which guarantee Otzma at least 4 seats.”
“Between the Land of Israel and our honor, we choose the integrity of the land and the establishment of a right-wing government,” they said.
Both Michael Ben Ari and Baruch Marzel were close devotees of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane HY’D, and Marzel even served as secretary of the Kach party’s Knesset faction in 1984. Otzma, which is the latest reincarnation of several Kahanist parties, has traditionally been condemned as to extremist not only by the mainstream media and most center-to-left political parties in Israel, but also by many in the religious-Zionist right.
Only this week, National Union chairman Bezalel Smotrich accused PM Netanyahu of trying to destroy his partnership with Habayit Hayehudi by pushing them to accept Marzel et al, in order to push their voters to vote for Likud. But now the same Smotrich has already declared that, should his partners in Habayit Hayehudi reject the deal with Otzma, he and Otzma would form their own faction.
All three parties when running on their own do not cross the threshold in most polls, leading to the intuitive conclusion that together they could garner as many as eight or nine seats. But this math does not take into account how many natural voters of Habayit Hayehudi and National Union would be turned off by Otzma.
According to Hakol Hayehudi, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz supports the three-way bloc and is expected to convince his own party members to approve it.