Rift within Jewish Home deepens over party primaries

Senior party officials push back against Education Minister Rafi Peretz's bid to retain current Knesset list, call for open primaries.

Hezki Baruch ,

Rafi Peretz
Rafi Peretz
Noam Rivkin Fenton/Flash90

Senior officials in the Jewish Home party expressed outrage Monday over an announcement made in the party’s name Monday morning that no primaries would be held prior to the upcoming Knesset election, slated for March 2nd.

A meeting Sunday evening at the home of former National Religious Party MK Rabbi Haim Drukman, which was aimed at laying the foundation for a joint run of national-religious parties in the next election, ended with no progress being made, the officials said, though talks towards a join run would continue over the next few days.

Given the indecision of Sunday’s meeting, and plans for further talks regarding possible unity arrangements, the senior party officials said they were shocked to see a formal announcement made Monday morning declaring that the Jewish Home would not hold primaries.

National Union chief Bezalel Smotrich has called on the Jewish Home to join with his faction and hold a joint primary vote for the entire national-religious bloc, unifying the factions and assigning positions on the list based on a popular vote.

The Otzma Yehudit party has also sought to be included in any open primary vote, with the aim of securing a place high on a joint list for its top candidate, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.

With polls showing the Jewish Home and National Union failing to cross the threshold even on a single list, there is increasing pressure on the Right for the two parties to unify, and to find some arrangement for including Otzma Yehudit, thus increasing all three factions’ chances of entering the next Knesset.

Jewish Home chief Rafi Peretz has pushed back against calls for primaries, and on Monday sought to win support from central committee members for the party’s declaration that it would not hold a primary vote. Peretz has called for the formation of a broad national-religious list for the Knesset, but without a primary election, dismissing calls for a primary vote as 'impeachment' attempts against him.

A significant number of Jewish Home central committee members refused to sign a petition opposing primaries and expressing support for Peretz.

Peretz did manage, however, to secure backing from a number of Jewish Home city council members across the country.




top