MK Zevulun Orlev of the Jewish Home party poured cold water Thursday on the possibility of a long-awaited political union with the only other religious-Zionist party in the Knesset, the National Union.
Orlev held a news conference in which he announced that his faction had decided to “strenuously oppose” a renewal of the freeze on construction in Judea and Samaria. “We will not be able to take part in a government and coalition that hurts the settlements in Judea and Samaria so grievously,” he said.
Orlev said that the Jewish Home's decision is meant as a signal to US President Barack Obama that “Israel is a democratic country and we have complete freedom to make decisions based on our beliefs and world view,” but added that the Jewish Home does not want to bring down the Netanyahu government.
However, he did not seem to be speaking for the other members of his faction, Minister Daniel Hershkovitz and MK Uri Orbach. “Hershkovitz and Orbach are welcome to be a part of this important move,” he said.
Regarding the possibility of a union with the Knesset's only other religious-Zionist faction, the National Union, Orlev sent a less than conciliatory message. “They tore the package apart the last time,” he said, referring to the last-moment split between the two factions before the last elections. “We might unite with the Zionist parts of the National Union, but not with the part that is identified with (Rabbi Meir) Kahane and Our Land of Israel.”
The allusion was to MK Michael Ben-Ari of the NU and activists like Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who are followers of the late Rabbi Kahane. The aggressive political style of the former students of Kahane is not to the liking of the more staid members of the religious Zionist camp.
The Our Land of Israel movement responded to Orlev's announcement with one of its own. “The state of the relations between Orlev and the other members of his faction is less than superb. It is no secret that when Orlev mounts the Knesset podium, Hershkovitz leaves the plenum. It is funny that Orlev – a serial divider who is creating a sub-party inside a divided party – is trying to preach morality.”
Our Land of Israel said that instead of fighting with each other or firing verbal salvos at ideological movements, the Jewish Home MKs should unite in the battle against the proposed freeze.