Ben-Gvir to Peretz: United Right List Headed for a Divorce

YERUSHALAYIM -
Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The United Right List, which came together before the April election in order to ensure that votes from the religious Zionist right were not “lost” to parties that failed to pass the electoral threshold, appears to be in the process of breaking up.

In a letter to Rabbi Rafi Perertz, head of the Jewish Home party, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir, head of Otzma Yehudit – one of the three parties that make up the United Right List – said that his voters had done their job and boosted the List into the Knesset, but that the party had not done right by voters.

In the letter to Peretz, Yediot Acharonot reported, Ben-Gvir wrote that “as you know and as you declared numerous times, it was the fact that we all joined together that brought victory and enabled the establishment of a right-wing government, which, were it not for Avigdor Liberman, would have been established.” And were it not for the 70,000-plus National Union voters who chose the List in the elections, neither his party nor Peretz’s would be in the Knesset at all.

Despite that, he wrote, Peretz and Betzalel Smotrich, head of the National Union, which previously had joined with the National Religious Party to form Jewish Home, had failed to fulfill promises made to him. “There were those who said they would not support the ‘Norwegian Law,’” which would allow parties to bring representatives further down the list into the Knesset when ministers from that party were appointed.

Ben-Gvir is number eight on the United Right List, so with the appointment of Peretz as Education Minister and Smotrich as Transportation Minister, along with Eli Ben-Dahan, who is already Deputy Defense Minister, Ben-Gvir would be in the Knesset if the party followed through on its promise to him to support the Norwegian Law. Ben-Gvir also complained that party officials had told him that the money provided by the government for National Union would be used by Jewish Home, with no allocations for what his party needed.

“When new elections were called, party spokespeople were quoted as speaking out against us, apparently to lower our ‘price’ for agreeing to remain in the United Right List. Not only were we insulted, but you even refused to meet to discuss the promises you made earlier, even thought you were already appointed a minister. This is not the way partners act, this is not the way to thank us for our efforts. As Education Minister, you know that the correct term for this is ‘ingratitude.’”

Peretz has not yet responded, but Smotrich said in a statement that Peretz and Ben-Gvir needed to meet “today, without staff or negotiators, without political agendas and without prerequisite demands. The agreement we made needs to remain in place and be honored. If we fail, the public will not forgive us.”