Education Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of the New Right party, explained Tuesday at B’Sheva’s Jerusalem conference his decision to establish a right-wing party that appeals to both religious and secular Israelis.
"In the Jewish home, I had a vision - to establish a religious and secular party that combined the entire Jewish people. A lot of the ‘Hardal’ (haredi national religious) public did not accept me and did not see me as representing the values, as not fighting enough against work on Shabbat, etc.”
"On the other hand, many of the traditional and secular public could not [identify with] excellent people like Smotrich and Yogev, who are excellent people, but many did not connect to them and every election we went down by 40 percent," Bennett said.
According to Bennett, the New Right party, which receives 8-9 seats in the polls, will reach 11-12 seats. "Rabbi Rafi Peretz, who is a friend and a wonderful person - I have no doubt that he will consolidate the Jewish Home and Otzma Yehudit, and, voilà, we will have 14 seats, like magic.”
Bennett had positive things to say about the chairman of the Jewish home. "Rabbi Rafi Peretz is a wonderful figure in the State of Israel and after the great crisis of the Expulsion, and leads the hope for mending."
Now, Bennett said, "The more faith-based and Hardal camp has a home, and there is a home for the mainstream - the New Right. I will still take care of religious Zionism and secular Zionism, for all the people of Israel.
"I do not look at people's kippot, do not examine what restaurant my wife worked at 15 years ago. I love the people of Israel as a whole. The religious Zionist institutions are not a sectoral need. Rabbi Peretz, as head of the military academy, has raised generations and generations of fighters. I will continue to worry about religious Zionism."
On the claim that Alona Barkat, number 3 on the New Right list, supported the Disengagement in the past, Bennett said: "Alona sobered up and said, 'I was wrong.' Alona is right-wing. Opposes a Palestinian state. But to tell you that she gets up in the morning and breathes this subject? No, she breathes the strengthening of the social periphery, Judaism and tradition. This is the vision of the New Right; Alona is a wonderful figure for this matter.”
The Trump Peace Plan
Minister Bennett clarified that "The New Right party will not enter into a government whose basic principles include the establishment of a Palestinian state."
According to Bennett, Prime Minister Netanyahu works to make gestures to the religious public before elections, and immediately afterwards neglects religious Zionism. "Netanyahu usually comes to Gush Etzion before the elections, comes to Eli, gathers the religious reporters and does a 'How much I love you.' A minute after the elections in 2009, he brings in Ehud Barak and in 2013 brings Tzipi Livni into the justice ministry of Israel. In 2015 he tried to bring in Tzipi and Buji [Isaac Herzog]. Religious Zionism is beloved by him before the elections and a minute later they are the last to receive a phone call."
Now, Bennett said, "Religious Zionism is on the map, the right is on the map, we are not going anywhere and will become a dominant party in the next government.”
"If we are not strong enough, Netanyahu will leave us as a fifth wheel. Beforehand he comes to Gush Etzion and a minute later - 'Take care of the mikvahs [and synagogues], sit at the back of the bus and don’t interfere with me.' The story is whether religious Zionism and the real right has a hand at the helm of the state of Israel.”
Bennett was asked what the source of the tension between him and Netanyahu was, and replied that "Since Shaked and I entered politics in 2013, on main points such as the Bar Ilan speech about a Palestinian state we have changed the direction, and it’s difficult for him. They have always released terrorists here and in 2014 my ultimatum prevented the release of terrorists. That’s real right. We are the only picture that shows that whoever votes right and gets right."