Bennet during his victory speech
Bennet during his victory speechFlash 90

On Tuesday, Naftali Bennett was elected to head the Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) party, defeating his opponents by a large margin.

In an interview with Arutz Sheva’s weekly B’Sheva newspaper, Bennett said that while he had realized he enjoyed widespread support, even he was surprised at the results of Tuesday’s vote. “There was a feeling that the youth were with me, but older party members supported others and, in the end, it turned out that most of the older members voted for us, too,” he said.

“It seems that after many years of a sense of political oppression, of not being counted, our public just burst forth like a volcano,” Bennett said.

He praised opponent MK Zevulun Orlev, who announced after the elections that he plans to leave politics. Bennett expressed hope that he and Orlev can work together in the future.

Bennett explained how he thinks the Jewish Home can earn 12 seats or more in the next Knesset – up from just three in the current Knesset.

“First of all, we need to unite, to bring together the whole right-wing religious-Zionist camp,” he said. Bennett has committed to unite with the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party.

“The second step is to break in to a new community, that has never voted for the National Religious Party [former name of the Jewish Home – ed], the traditional public in particular,” he continued. “I’m talking about those who light candles on Friday night and make Kiddush, but after that go on to watch television. I want them to vote for us, too. We will keep being religious-Zionist according to halacha (Jewish law), but we will include those people as well.”

“We see Zionism and Judaism as tied together. Shas sees only the holiness of Torah, Likud Beytenu sees only the importance of the state, but most of the nation wants both,” Bennett declared.

Also important is the party’s social platform, he said. “We will lead with a Jewish social platform based on ‘Love your fellow man as yourself’ and mutual obligation,” he said. Bennett noted that he has a background in economics, and is working with economists to create a platform that is both caring and practical.

In several days, members of the Jewish Home party will return to the ballot box to vote for candidates on the party list. Bennett shared the candidates whom he would most like to see make the top five slots.

“First of all, I think that all the candidates are worthy,” he began. “I would like to see Uri Orbach on the list. He unites the religious and secular. Avi Wortzman is very important when it comes to religious-Zionist institutions; he’s a man who knows how to provide for the ulpanot and yeshivas and the rest of the institutions like Zevulun Orlev did.”

“I see Ayelet Shaked’s inclusion as critical,” Bennet continued. “It’s important that she be in a high slot on the list as a symbol of Zionism, Judaism and strength in face of the post-Zionist left and the phenomenon of illegal entry. If we want the traditional vote ,we need her.

“In Motti Yogev I see both security and settlement, someone who was the chairman of Bnei Akiva, a senior officer in the IDF and deputy head of the Binyamin regional council.

“Also important is the promising young candidate Yoni Shetbon, who combines Torah and bravery,” he concluded.