Rafi Peretz: Unity on Religious Right Essential

Itamar Ben-Gvir (L) and Rafi Peretz meet on Friday.

The joint run between Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit was necessary, Jewish Home head Rabbi Rafi Peretz said Motzoei Shabbos, because without it, the entire religious Zionist movement would have been at great risk of not being represented at all in the next Knesset.

“We need to make these arrangements in order to save the entire right-wing bloc,” Peretz wrote in a social media post. “We cannot allow thousands of votes to be thrown into the trash again. We need to maximize the number of votes on the right and ensure a victory for the right in the next election.”

Peretz was responding to criticism from members of the party over the deal announced Friday that would bring Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit list into Jewish Home. Under the deal, Otzma will get the third, sixth and eighth slots on the joint list. Several hundred party members sent Peretz a letter protesting the deal, demanding that he cancel the arrangement until it can be approved by party institutions.

“The deal we made Friday is an important one for the future of religious Zionism, but I emphasize that this is a first step,” Peretz wrote. “As a movement we must learn to work together while ensuring that the differences between us are preserved.” Peretz called on the National Union and the New Right to join the Jewish Home. “We cannot take any chances this time. Unity is the order of the hour for religious Zionism and the right. Without this unity we are all in danger.”

In an interview Motzoei Shabbos, Ayelet Shaked, who announced Thursday that she would run with Naftali Bennett in the New Right party, said that she would have preferred an open primary with all parties to the right of the Likud, but that Bennett insisted on running separately. In the end, it was decided that it would be better to have two parties in that space – one a general right party, and one a religious right party. “We are also working to bring in new voters to the bloc,” she said. “I started on the New Right and I will remain there. We tried to create a single large party but the idea didn’t take off. I think that with two parties we will enjoy success,” she added.