Otzma Leyisrael Announces Election Campaign

Nationalist party that missed out of last Knesset responds to collapsing coalition, clarifies why it won't be joining with Jewish Home.

Ari Yashar ,

Otzma Leyisrael (file)
Otzma Leyisrael (file)
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

After Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Finance Minister Yair Lapid's (Yesh Atid) failed meeting Monday night apparently spelled the end of the coalition and impending elections, former MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari announced his Otzma Leyisrael party intends to compete.

"Many are asking me tonight: are you running for the next Knesset? The answer is clear: Yes!" wrote Ben-Ari on his Facebook page.

Ben-Ari and fellow former MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad, both formerly of the National Union list, launched their Otzma Leyisrael party in the last elections and fell 9,000 votes short of the minimum threshold, with some in the party arguing negative campaigning by Jewish Home hurt their chances.

Referencing the minimum threshold, which the current Knesset raised from 2% to 3.5%, Ben-Ari commented "those who raised the minimum threshold will reproach and threaten about 'wasting right-wing votes' and will want to drag us with a collar on our necks to a right that is leftist."

However, the former MK clarified the campaign will be for the purpose of presenting an uncompromising nationalist option in the elections, saying "our running is based on principles and only with your active help will we also succeed!"

Ben-Ari and Eldad left National Union as it joined its Tekuma faction headed by Housing Minister Uri Ariel with Jewish Home's Knesset list. One user asked Ben-Ari about the possibility of running together with Jewish Home.

"Jewish Home is being completely butchered by Bennett. They have no intention of unifying (with us) and they never did," said Ben-Ari. In a jab at a recent comment by Bennett, he added "there's no such thing as unity with someone who says 99.9% of the Israeli Arabs are loyal to the state."

Shortly after Bennett made the statement, a Channel 10 poll found that 29% of Arab citizens of Israel blamed the state for the recent wave of terrorist attacks, signifying tacit approval for terrorism among a third of Israeli Arabs.

Regarding the talk of Jewish Home unification, there have been signs lately of a possible split with the party and National Union's Tekuma faction, with Ariel and Bennett arguing about which direction to take the party and how to merge the lists of the two.

The question of conflicting visions and values was given expression recently as the Jewish Home Forum in Judea and Samaria wrote the party's Knesset members and asked why they are in the government still given the ongoing severe freeze of Jewish construction in the region.