Naftali Bennett faced a Jewish Home party shocked and angered by Tuesday’s election results which saw a plunge to 8 Knesset seats from 12, after polls at the beginning of the campaign projected up to 18.
“These elections have shown the magician in the political system is not Naftali Bennett,” said one Jewish Home MK sarcastically, “and there is a strong sense that we made every possible mistake with our campaign,” The Jerusalem Post reported.
In an effort to broaden the party’s base, Bennett brought in candidates with secular and even left-wing backgrounds, which outraged the core national-religious members.
Since Wednesday, Bennett has been meeting with party officials to quell the murmurs of revolt. Some have reportedly alluded to a technical split before the next government is formed, and negotiating separately with Netanyahu.
Among the demands being made is that party members who are appointed to ministerial positions will resign from the Knesset to make room for others on the list, who were not among the top eight.
Bennett’s woes are financial too. The campaign was budgeted on the premise that it would come out with 14-15 seats; but the eight it actually won will entitle it to a little more than half the government funding anticipated.
“It has all blown up in our faces,” said a Jewish Home source. “The party’s Knesset members worked very hard throughout the campaign, but did not take part in any of the decision making, and so it is only natural that they are criticizing this failure. There is no doubt that the results demand some soul-searching.”