Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu attacked Bayit Yehudi in televised interviews Saturday night, and mentioned the "exclusion of women" as a point of contention with the religious Zionist party.
Likud's campaign ads have portrayed the Bayit Yehudi list as being male-chauvinistic, despite the fact that there are three women in the first dozen people on the list, and only one woman in Likud's first 12 names.
Netanyahu told Channels 2 and 10 that he is not ruling out adding any party to the coalition. "Our principles are very clear," he stated. Regarding Bennett, he said, "I was happy to hear that he corrected his statement [about refusing orders to evict Jews from their homes]. I refuse to accept refusal of orders and the exclusion of women."
"Most of the religious Zionist public opposes the exclusion of women and disobeying orders, and that is a good thing, and they will continue to receive their representation within Likud," he added.
Netanyahu made similar comments last month regarding Bennett's statement on the refusal of orders, in which Bennett spoke frankly about the dilemma soldiers face when told to evict Jews from their homes - as opposed to military orders against an enemy which must always be obeyed, as halakha commands - but this is the first time he mentioned the status of women.
The ads refer to an Arutz Sheva interview with Rabbi Eliyahu Ben Dahan, number 4 on the list and are misleading. The rabbi said that he is in favor of the idea of replacing the Knesset's current Committee for Advancement of Women and Committee for Children's Rights with a unified Committee for the Family which would deal holistically with all the related issues. This idea was first broached by Kadima MK Marina Solodkin when she was still in the Likud party and headed the committee.
"Family values must receive a place of honor," he explained. "The most basic component of any nation is the family unit. I will do everything possible to assist in promoting this cause and I will strive to be its leader." Ben Dahan was an innovative administrative head of the rabbinic courts and made extraordinary efforts to find husbands who had abandoned their wives without granting them a Jewish divorce and managed to reduce the number of such women significantly.
As in the U.S. presidential elections, the women's vote is considered crucial by strategists. Labor's Shelly Yachimovich has also called upon women to vote for her in a last-minute campaign, with the slogan "You can defeat Bibi." In the Hebrew version, the 'you' appears in the feminine form.