Teveryah Mayor Ron Kobi is running on a list for the Knesset, but he will not be able to boast the inclusion of Hovav Damri – the husband of Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel. Damri submitted his resignation to Kobi on Thursday, minutes after the party lists for the elections were submitted to the Central Elections Commission.
Damri had been fourth on the Secular Right list headed by Kobi. That means if the party had garnered enough votes in the elections, he would be guaranteed a seat in the Knesset. According to Damri, Cobi refused to accept his resignation, and his name appeared on the party’s list.
As a result, Damri wrote directly to Commission chairman Chanan Meltzer, complaining that he did not want to be on the list. “I submitted my resignation to Mr. Kobi before the closure of the lists, but he refused my request not to submit my name as a candidate. I hereby ask the Commission not to accept me as a candidate.
Speaking to Yediot Acharonot, Kobi said that he was “very surprised at the decision. He agreed to be on the list and signed the documents, but he got very nervous moments before I entered the chambers of the Commission to submit the list. Apparently someone pressured him or his wife into resigning. It’s clear that the Likud is afraid of the Secular Right.”
If anyone is threatened by Cobi’s candidacy, it is Avigdor Liberman, who had objected to Cobi’s using the term “Secular Right” for his party. Cobi had announced in June that he planned to enter politics, and would run for the Knesset in the upcoming September elections. That raised the ire of Liberman, whose “niche” in the current campaign has been what he terms the “secular right,” rightwing Israelis who do not want Chareidi or religious influence on government policy. Liberman has attacked Cobi numerous times, calling him “a plot by Netanyahu” to diffuse the secular right vote and ensure that his Yisrael Beytenu party miss the electoral threshold.
Despite the objections of Liberman, the Commission ruled that Cobi could use the term. Differing with Liberman, the Committee said that the terms “secular” and “right” were general terms that anyone could use, and were not necessarily identified with Yisrael Beytenu.