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Nationalist Camp Split: Good for the Right

MK Aryeh Eldad explains why the breakaway party Otzma L'Yisrael is good for the Israeli right.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/18/2012, 6:53 PM

MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari
MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben-Ari
Flash 90

The unification of the two right-wing parties Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) and Ichud Leumi (National Union) was a cause of celebration in the nationalist camp. Many were disappointed when two of Ichud Leumi’s four MKs split off to form a new party, Otzma L’Yisrael.

In fact, says MK Aryeh Eldad, the current makeup of the parties is good for the political right. The new unified party will play its role in the coalition, he told Arutz Sheva, but it needs a right-wing Opposition party to help it along.

“We believe that the next Knesset must have a nationalist party to the right of the Coalition that will continue proclaiming the truth… When Netanyahu demolishes towns or neighborhoods our friends in the Jewish Home will not be able to cast a no-confidence vote,” he explained. “When Netanyahu continues a de facto freeze on construction in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem – as he did for the past four years despite the presence of the Likud’s nationalist camp and the Jewish Home in the coalition – Otzma L’Yisrael will be there to inform Netanyahu of the ultimate demands.”

“Our presence in the Knesset is critical to mark the right wing, to draw ideological lines… to warn against any slide to the left on Netanyahu’s part and to remind the Likud of its ideological conscience,” he declared.

In addition, he said, “An Opposition presence will make it easier for the right wing of the Coalition to pressure Netanyahu from within, by arguing that ‘right wing’ criticism of the government must be met with an appropriate response.”

Otzma L’Yisrael does not desire to remain in the Opposition, he clarified – but is realistic about its options. The chances of Netanyahu meeting the party’s demand to rescind his support for the creation of a new Arab state, Palestine, in Judea and Samaria are “faint,” he said.

In addition, he said, “It isn’t enough for the bride to be willing, the groom must be willing, too. It is clear to us that Netanyahu is unwilling to see Michael Ben-Ari in the Coalition in any case.”

During its stay in Knesset, Otzma L’Yisrael plans to continue campaigning regarding its three pet issues, he said: demanding that Arab citizens of Israel perform national service and pay taxes as Jewish citizens do, fighting to get illegal entrants out of struggling Israeli neighborhoods, and pushing for a strong military response to terrorism.

Recent polls have mostly shown the party passing the minimum vote threshold and entering Knesset, Eldad said. “Our goal is to have a strong Otzma L’Yisrael in Knesset, and every voice helps,” he urged.