Daily Israel Report

Jewish Home Fights for a Place in Local Politics

Following Knesset success, Bayit Yehudi prepares for a new elections battle on the local level.
First Publish: 5/17/2013, 11:29 AM

Bayit Yehudi's Moti Yogev, R. Ben Dahan
Bayit Yehudi's Moti Yogev, R. Ben Dahan
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction, which doubled its support in Knesset in the last national elections, is now gearing up to fight for a similar change on the city level.

Party secretary Nir Orbach, who is heading the latest campaign, has said that increasing the Bayit Yehudi party's presence at the local level will boost its standing in national elections as well.

Bayit Yehudi candidates will run in elections in roughly 100 cities and local councils. The goal - to increase the party's representation by at least one member on every council.

Candidates are increasingly eager to align themselves with Bayit Yehudi, Orbach says. More people take pride in belonging to the faction thanks to its improved Knesset standing, he explained. In addition, he said, they realize that the faction has the power to draw supporters from outside the religious-Zionist community.

In Haifa, the party list will be headed by Deputy Mayor Shai Blumenthal. "Our goal is to provide the option on the local level that Bayit Yehudi gave on the national level," Blumenthal explained.

The local list is mirroring Bayit Yehudi's recipe for success on the national level by integrating more young people and women, he said. One of the top candidates may be a local woman who is "like the Ayelet Shaked of Haifa," he said. MK Ayelet Shaked was widely credited for helping to boost Bayit Yehudi's standing among Israelis who support Zionism and Jewish tradition but do not identify as religious.

According to Orbach, on a national level the party's focus will be on cities and towns in the "periphery," outside of central Israel.

The Yesh Atid faction plans to join several municipal races as well, in hopes of creating local roots to cement its sudden success in the national elections. Yesh Atid was created just months before the last elections and took 19 seats to become the second-largest party in Knesset.