Rabbi's daughter, ex-Defense Min, breakaway MK mull joint run

Breakaway Knesset Member, former Defense Minister Yaalon, daughter of Shas founder Rabbi Ovadia Yosef reportedly mulling joint Knesset run.

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David Rosenberg,

Orly Levy-Abekasis
Orly Levy-Abekasis

The daughter of a former Israeli chief rabbi and cofounder of the Shas party is reportedly considering entering politics, and may join forces with some veteran politicos, including a former Defense Minister.

According to a report Thursday by Walla News, Adina Bar-Shalom, the daughter of the late Chief Rabbi of Israel and cofounder of the Shas party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, is weighing a possible Knesset run alongside several seasoned politicians.

While the current Likud-led government appears stable, and new elections are not currently scheduled until November, 2019, a group of reform-minded activists called “Beshvil Yisrael” has reached out to several current and former lawmakers ahead of the possible formation of a new party.

Among the members of Beshvil Yisrael listed as possible candidates on a new Knesset ticket are Bar-Shalom and Yeruham Mayor Michael Biton. A 72-year-old mother of three, Bar-Shalom won the 2014 Israel Prize for her work as a haredi educator, including the founding of the first haredi women’s college in 2001.

Bar-Shalom drew criticism in 2011 when she endorsed a plan calling on Israel to surrender the Golan Heights and enable the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. In May of that year, Bar-Shalom again raised eyebrows when she joined a delegation of Israeli activists in a meeting with senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah.

Beshvil Yisrael has reportedly begun talks with former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who resigned from the Knesset in 2016 after Prime Minister Netanyahu removed him from the Defense Ministry, as part of a coalition deal with Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party.

Yaalon, who had been a member of the Likud party, announced that he was forming a new party and would run for the 21st Knesset. Since the announcement, most Knesset polls have shown Yaalon’s new faction failing to pass the 3.25% minimum electoral threshold necessary to enter the Knesset.

Activists from Beshvil Yisrael are also reportedly in contact with breakaway MK Orly Levy-Abekasis. A member of Yisrael Beytenu until 2016, Levy-Abekasis bolted when the party joined the Likud-led coalition, claiming that her party’s coalition agreement with the government ignored socio-economic issues.