Naftali Bennett, new chairman of the HaBayit HaYehudi (Jewish Home) party, calls on all Zionists to join a united Zionist party that would include the Ichud Leumi (National Union).
“We are on a new path of openness with religious and non-religious” supporters, he told Voice of Israel government radio Wednesday morning after winning a landslide victory in Tuesday’s voting.
He won 70 percent of the votes, easily defeating veteran politician Zevulun Orlev, who congratulated Bennett and announced he is retiring from politics.
Outgoing chairman of the Jewish Home party, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, also congratulate Bennett and told him,"The public decided. I hope you can steer the great ship of the National Religious community and I intend to help you with it.”
Bennett ran a well-organized campaign, using SMS messages and a large staff of supporters to call all Jewish Home members before the vote.
Bennett said Wednesday he does not rule out any Zionist from joining the party, including National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari and activist Itamar Ben-Gvir. He acknowledged that they want to form an independent party, but added, “For the time being, we will have a large Zionist party.”
He said the apparent re-election victory of President Barack Obama is important for the next government.
“Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be the next Prime Minister,” Bennett said, “but the question is whether he will form a government with the Jewish Home party or with Yair Lapid,” chairman of the new Yesh Atid (Future) party.
All polls show that Lapid will enter the Knesset with a double-digit number of MKs, most of them at the expense of the Kadima party.
The Jewish Home party will hold elections next Tuesday for its slate of candidates for the next Knesset. Afterwards, the National Union will unveil its list of candidates, with both parties planning to run together.
National Union Knesset Member Uri Ariel predicted Tuesday that a combined party will win 10 mandates in the Knesset.