Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) sent an open letter Thursday to party chairman and Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, in which he warned that Bennett's attempts to push through a party constitution could lead to a split in its ranks. The letter was also addressed to members of the central committees of the Jewish Home and the Tekuma faction within the party.
"As the Jewish Home's central committee is set to convene and vote on the party constitution,” wrote Ariel, “we have to answer many questions, the foremost of which is: how will the constitution affect the fabric of unity of religious Zionism? How much weight does it carry and where is it headed?”
"I support unity,” he vowed, “but I, too, like many others, see the process of the constitution, in the way it was brought before us, as a move that could gnaw away at unity and bring about a split.”
Minister Ariel added that he believes that the unified front presented by the Jewish Home and the Tekuma faction, which he heads, will be a decisive factor in the degree to which religious Zionism “grows, becomes empowered and influences the country's leadership.”
"In the next few days we will have to decide, in deeds, where we are headed,” he wrote.
Earlier in the day, Ariel told Voice of Israel public radio that the new constitution does not affect Tekuma and is only relevant for the Mafdal (National Religious Party) faction inside the Jewish Home. “I will say something which is a matter of principle: we can run alone, and if need be, we will run alone, maybe with other political forces. In any case, if the Jewish Home splits, because they are not willing to conduct talks, surely this will be a great burden in Minister Bennett and the Mafdal.
"It is not easy to appear before the public as people who have split something that existed,” he explained. “That is my assessment. In the widest sense. I do not want to go into details, but every one will choose his own path.”