Calls for Unity Pact Between Yishai, Otzma Yehudit

Disunity between Israel's national-religious parties harming the community, group says - and suggest Yishai and Ben-Ari form a joint bloc.

Shimon Cohen and Tova Dvorin, | updated: 10:08

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

The Students for Israel organization has called for greater unity in the nationalist bloc Tuesday, penning a letter to former Shas MK and 'Ha'am Itanu' leader Eli Yishai and former Jewish Home MK Yoni Chetboun to join forces with former MK Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit party for the upcoming elections. 

"We are writing demanding that you work for unity between Ha'am Itanu and Otzma Yehudit," the organization wrote. "The connection between the above parties is necessary and appropriate in all respects."

"Under all estimates, a union between the two will ensure that both parties pass the Knesset threshold," the organization argues. "If the parties will run separately, both may, heaven forbid, find themselves below the threshold limit and outside the Knesset."

"We venture to prevent the nation from reaching such an absurd situation, which can also cause damage to the entire national camp with throwing tens of thousands of votes out in vain, and worsening the balance between national camp bloc left-Arab bloc," it continued.

The party ran in the last elections under the name Otzma LeYisrael and was just 9,000 votes short of the threshold, with members of the party blaming Jewish Home for running a negative campaign against them and affecting results. Now the Knesset threshold is even higher. 

They add that "tens of thousands of civilians, a huge crowd and a range that contains Jews from all sectors, who believe in eternal right of Israel to the Land of Israel on the basis of the Torah of Israel, expect the announcement of a true unity that reflects the will of the people and the creation of a joint faction fighting the Jewish character of the State of Israel from being expelled from the Knesset." 

Students for Israel leader Eliyahu Nissim, who signed the letter, claims that the public is largely behind the unity pact, and that the lack of a pact between Otzma Yehudit and Ha'am Itanu would harm the national-religious community as a whole. Nissim urged the party's leaders to sign such a deal as soon as possible ahead of the March 17, 2015 elections.

The calls for a unity pact surface after a crucial unity pact was signed between Labor and Tzipi Livni's Hatnua party, which saved Hatnua for falling short of the Knesset threshold and propelled the Left into a potential front-runner for the elections, according to the most recent poll. 

Meanwhile, Yishai's Ha'am Itanu - a breakaway from Shas - is projected to barely pass the threshold at just four seats. Earlier this month, rumors were high that Yishai could receive a boost, following a possible split between Jewish Home and the internal Tekuma faction, headed by Uri Ariel, but Jewish Home chose to remain unified after a Central Committee meeting Saturday night. 




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