Elon for Unity, Eldad to HaTikva

The two MKs of the Moledet faction of the National Union party have split up: Elon to the new religious party, Eldad to secular HaTikvah party.

Hillel Fendel,

MK Aryeh Eldad
MK Aryeh Eldad

The Moledet faction of the National Union party has split up: MK Chairman Benny Elon is one of the leaders of the new religious-nationalist party currently replacing the religious-nationalist bloc, and MK Aryeh Eldad is joining the nascent secular-nationalist HaTikvah party.

Work on forming the new religious party has been underway for several months, and success was finally announced yesterday [Monday]. It will replace the decades-old National Religious Party (NRP), as well as the parties of the National Union - Tekumah and Moledet.  Moledet was originally founded by the late Rechavam Ze'evi (Gandhi) as a mixed secular/religious Land of Israel party.

MK Elon, speaking with Arutz-7's Hebrew newsmagazine Tuesday morning, said that a major difference between the new party and the previous technical merger is that one leader will be selected in nation-wide primaries, obviating the need for separate leaders for each sector.

Elon called on all those who see themselves as members of the national-religious camp not to be apathetic: "Don't suffice with merely voting for a leader in the primaries. Submit names of candidates for the Knesset, or join up yourself! We are starting along a new path showing that what we all have in common is much greater than what divides us."

The list of candidates for the Knesset will be chosen by a body of public figures in the religious-Zionist camp. "Only those who do not have immediate plans to enter politics will be on this council," Elon said.

MK Eldad Takes Different Path
Meanwhile, MK Eldad announced in the Knesset on Tuesday that he had turned down an offer from the new party to reserve two spots for "traditional" Jews on the list of candidates. He said they would be merely a "fig leaf" and would not be able to truly influence party policy. Instead, he announced that he will be running for Knesset as head of a different party - HaTikvah (The Hope).
"I am leaving the National Union with great sorrow," he announced, "but I am convinced that HaTikvah will be the surprise of the upcoming elections."

"We must provide a political home to those who do not want to support a religious party, but who are patriots nonetheless who don't want a Palestinian state and who want to fight corruption.  We must give them a different hope and alternative, or else they will either not vote at all or vote for parties that have long abandoned the right-wing ideology."

Eldad, a two-term Knesset Member since  2003, will fill HaTikvah's #1 slot, and will be joined by Dr. Ron Breiman, former Chairman of Professors for a Strong Israel, and former Israel Air Force pilot Col. (ret.) Yehoar Gal, who served as Chief of Staff for former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Eldad mentioned that he had invited former Likud member Benny Begin to join his party, but that Begin had declined, "just like a battered woman who returns to her husband." Eldad noted that Begin had quit the Likud in protest of the Wye Plantation agreement, and "the same thing is liable to happen again the first time Netanyahu has to evacuate an outpost in Judea and Samaria."
Repeating Begin's Error?
Eldad did not mention Begin in another context, however - namely, that Begin had tried to start a similar secular-nationalist party in the elections of 1999 and failed. Begin ran together with the National Union at that time, and received only 4 Knesset seats.  Shortly afterwards, he resigned from the Knesset, saying that the public he had hoped to galvanize had brought only a small percentage of the party's support.