Ketzaleh: Follow Me to Israel-2

“We will bring smiles back to the faces of those who cherish the Land of Israel,” says National Union party leader Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz.

Chagit Rotenberg,

Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz, National Union party
Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz, National Union party
Sasson Tiram

Part two of an interview with National Union party leader Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz.
Click here for Part One.

B'Sheva: From what population groups do you expect to get support?
Ketzaleh: “We want to be a pivotal party, and we plan that this election will be the basis for possibly running a candidate for Prime Minister next time around, if we are strong enough. Why do we have to always remain the fifth wheel, why can’t we have an observant Prime Minister?

I have no doubt that a large segment of the secular population will see us as the party in which it feels at home. We have two secular candidates on our list, Brig.-Gen. Dr. Arye Eldad of Kfar Adumim and Professor Ron Breiman of Ramat Aviv, former head of Professors for a Strong Israel.”

National Union party leader Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz
Israel news photo: Sasson Tamir

B'Sheva: Some religious people may find it problematic to vote for a party with non-observant candidates on its list.
Ketzaleh: “Any Jew who lives in the Land of Israel and is willing to sacrifice himself for this land contributes to the People of Israel.  However, both Ron and Arye proclaimed, "the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel according to the Torah of Israel," and they have taken upon themselves to accept party discipline with regard to all Torah decisions.

We Jews are all children of one father and when faced by life threatening situations, must ignore other issues. Without the Land of Israel, Jews would return to the Diaspora.  I call upon the non-observant public to join us and save the Land of Israel.”

B'Sheva: Won’t the fact that you formed a separate list cause many religious right votes to be wasted?
Ketzaleh: “Just the opposite. After all, there are Meimad voters and others who find Ketzaleh’s solid positions vis-a-vis the Land of Israel and education somewhat frightening. They can vote for the Jewish Home party, which suits them. I also call upon those who are unsure about their vote for Kadimah and Labor to vote for the new Jewish Home party so that they receive the minimum amount of votes required to enter the Knesset, thus ensuring that their extra votes won’t be wasted and can be pooled with ours.”

B'Sheva: Will you have an agreement for pooling surplus votes with Bayit Hayehudi?
Ketzaleh: “I’ve spoke to Zevulun Orlev (of Jewish Home) about that and he readily agreed to such an agreement.”

B'Sheva: Dr. Michael Ben Ari is on your list of candidates, representing Baruch Marzel and Rabbi Wolpe’s party which joined you. Isn’t he a Rabbi Kahane supporter? Aren’t you worried about someone labeled a rightist extremist?
Ketzaleh: “If you read the Israeli media, you find that to them, the entire religious-Zionist population belongs to the extreme right. If someone in the Likud says something of which they disapprove, he is labeled an extreme rightist as well. Only Hamas terrorists and leftist demonstrators are "activists" and not extremists.

We decided that unity is the central goal in forming our party, meaning that anyone who joined, had to bend a bit and bite his lips for the sake of the Land of Israel. 

I see this joining of forces as a significant achievement. Dr. Ben Ari lives in the Samaria town of Karnei Shomron, lectures at Bar Ilan University, has a large family and doesn’t have to apologize to anyone. He has his right to his own inner beliefs in a democracy. The fact that he was able to tone down his extremist opinions for unity is a lesson to all of us. We have brought about unity and this is the main thing.”

Child Allowances For Those Who Are Pro-Israel
How do you feel about the demand to raise child allowances?
Ketzaleh: “The State of Israel must find ways to raise the Jewish birthrate here and in the world. Families blessed with many children must get enough money to be able to raise their children properly, but we must find a legal way to see to it that only those who are Jews or pro-Israel receive this stipend. Raising large families should be a priority in the Jewish State as this gives us the strength to win.”

B'Sheva: If you were in the government now, what would you recommend doing in Gaza?
Ketzaleh: “The question is what our goals are, because goals determine methods. The government announced that it is not trying to get rid of all the rockets, only to lessen their frequency, and to try to reach an agreement with the other side. I would tell IDF officers: First of all, I want to remove this cancer from its roots, because if we don’t, it will spread. How? There are several ways, one of which is announcing that from tomorrow on, there will be no more water or electricity if there are still rockets. Without that, they will leave as life becomes impossible. We won’t have to bomb them. We can even decide to flatten the entire area after that, but first we must decide what our goal is and the State of Israel has never said that getting rid of the rockets is its goal.

B'Sheva: Will you demand the rebuilding of Gush Katif ?
Ketzaleh: Absolutely. At the end of the day, the State of Israel will have to go back there, because the shooting will just become more frequent. Eventually, life will come to a standstill in Tel Aviv as well. We will be forced to have soldiers in Gaza anyway, and just as we returned to Gush Etzion and Hevron [both south of Jerusalem], we will return to every place we were forced to leave from. Everything, however, depends on our strength in the next government.

B'Sheva: What do you have to say to Land of Israel supporters who want to vote Likud so as to strengthen its rightist camp?
Ketzaleh: We have to look at the head of the list, not at those who follow him, because they have less strength than he does. We know the leaders, we have experience with them, and know how they stand up to pressure and difficulties. The Land of Israel people there, such as Arden and Saar, will get in whether Land of Israel supporters vote for them or not. Feiglin and his like will not get in anyway as they were pushed down to the bottom of the list by Bibi.

However, our list includes terrific people such as Avi Roth and Betzalel Smutrich, Dr. Ron Breiman and Lior Calfa who will only make it into the Knesset if they get your vote. One mandate more or less doesn’t matter in the Likud, but is crucial to us and can change the entire constellation of the government.”

Coalition With Netanyahu

B'Sheva: If you are in the government, what are the ministries you would like?
Ketzaleh: Naturally, we would want Housing and Education, and other posts that affect the lives of citizens. As we grow bigger, we can try for any of the more important ministries.

B'Sheva: Netanyahu expects to negotiate with Abu Mazen, and perhaps even on the Golan Heights. Won’t that prevent you from joining his coalition?
Ketzaleh: “Bibi is pragmatic towards Jews as well as Arabs. He knows what the other side wants. There are ways to sign coalition agreements that discuss the main issues, not the secondary ones. We can find a way to keep crucial issues from reaching the operating table.”

B'Sheva: Suppose you are in the government and the Court rules to dismantle an outpost. What will you do?
Ketzaleh: “The Courts have already done that, but Prime Minister Olmert found ways not to carry out these rulings. A strong government can deal with the courts in other ways, for example, it can legalize settlements and circumvent the courts. The court can give directions, but when Barak and Olmert did not want to carry out things, they found that they could avoid action.”

At the end of the interview, Ketzaleh asks to add another call to the public: “We are taking a difficult project upon ourselves. Whenever I led people in the past and shouted, 'Follow me!' - whether it was in my commando unit, the Gush Emunim settlement movement or Arutz Sheva - we were able to reach our goals. So I turn to you again and ask of you - Follow me to save the Land of Israel!”

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