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Daily Israel Report

Rabbi Aviner: New Party Should Be Considered Very Carefully

"Something has to be done," Rabbi Shlomo Aviner said today. "Not only I, but many people in the religious-Zionist camp feel that the National Religious Party no longer represents them..."
First Publish: 10/13/2004, 4:19 PM / Last Update: 10/13/2004, 11:54 AM

"Something has to be done," Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told Arutz-7 today. "Not only I, but many people in the religious-Zionist camp feel that the National Religious Party no longer represents them... In the course of the years, the NRP is losing supporters and is losing MKs, and is losing the confidence of its voters. A party has a responsibility to its voters. Something has to be done."

Rabbi Aviner of Beit El, one of the leading rabbis in the religious-Zionist camp and the Dean of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim in the Old City of Jerusalem, was responding to reports in today's Yediot Acharonot that he and several other public figures were working towards forming a new religious-Zionist party. Rabbi Aviner met in his home this week with MKs Effie Eitam and Yitzchak Levy, who appear to be on their way out of the NRP, and with Col. (res.) Rabbi Moshe Hager, head of the pre-military yeshiva academy in Yatir.

"I give more importance to unifying the forces in our camp," Rabbi Aviner said today, "than to forming a new party. I am leaning towards the opinion that a new party is desirable, but it's certainly not final and certainly not for tomorrow morning. It could very well be - and I say this cautiously - that a new party should be formed; but this is just a theoretical statement. From a practical standpoint, it must be carefully measured whether this will help or cause harm."

He clarified that if a new party were to be formed, he would not take an active role: "I'm not a politician, but rather someone who learns Torah. But I do think that this is what should be done." He said that a political party has an educational role, and as such, cannot be led by people who are not religious or G-d-fearing.

Asked why he would not join an existing religious party such as Tekumah, instead of starting a new body, the rabbi responded, "Tekumah has very good people, and I love and respect them, but it has a different problem. It is organically bound up with a non-religious party, namely, Yisrael Beiteinu [as part of the National Union party, together with the mixed religious/non-religious Moledet party - ed.]. As I explained before, a party must be religious, just as the educator of a class must be religious."