National Union to Choose New Party Head Monday

Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The National Union-Tekuma faction, considered the “more religious” faction of Jewish Home, is set to choose its leadership and Knesset list for the upcoming April elections. Contending for leadership of the party are Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, a longtime National Union figure, and recently-joined but very outspoken MK Betzalel Smotrich. Ariel is not seeking a spot on the party’s Knesset list, and has announced that if he is not chosen as party head, he will retire from politics.

National Union represents the “Chareidi Dati-Leumi” voter, those who identify as Zionists but are culturally and religiously chareidi, as opposed to the more modern approach of voters of the other faction of Jewish Home, the National Religious Party. The two factions united for the 2015 elections under the leadership of Naftali Bennett, an NRP figure who has since bolted to form the New Right party. In the absence of Bennett at the helm, the National Union is expected to take a much more decisive role in leading Jewish Home’s policies. The party’s central committee will choose ten candidates for Knesset seats.

“We are entering these elections with optimism, and with great appreciation to Minister Uri Ariel, and we hope that party members will make the right decision for the future of the party, Religious Zionism and the Jewish people,” said Smotrich. “Our next step will be to unify all our forces under the banner of Religious Zionism and move ahead to the elections.”

Ariel said that “I trust the members of the party to choose the list for the Knesset, and to choose me as the party head. After the choice is made I will work with MK Smotrich to ensure that we run together with Jewish Home, and that can help form a right-wing government headed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.”

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