Crisis Averted? Jewish Home Unity Talks 'Positive'

Talks between Bennett, Ariel over finalizing merger between their two factions went well, as Ben-Dahan considers bolting National Union.

Hezki Baruch and Ari Soffer ,

Uri Ariel (R) with Naftali Bennett
Uri Ariel (R) with Naftali Bennett
Flash 90

Dispelling concerns over a potential split within the party, Jewish Home officials say a meeting Wednesday between party head Naftali Bennett and number two Uri Ariel were held in a "positive atmosphere," as the two sought to smooth over issues to unite the party ahead of elections next year.

Ariel's National Union faction joined with Bennett's Jewish Home prior to the last general elections in 2012, but bickering between MKs has prevented a formal merger. A point of particular contention is Ariel's insistence on the number of seats being reserved for National Union MKs in the united list, while Bennett maintains that - apart from Ariel and potentially one other MK - following a merger all potential candidates will have to compete in party primaries.

Jewish Home officials say that after the "positive" meeting, the two have scheduled further talks in the coming days.

Following his discussions with Ariel, Bennett met with the leaders of the Jewish Home's youth faction, and updated them on the latest developments.

The talks follow a public spat between MKs from the two factions. 

Earlier Wednesday, Senior Citizens MK Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) took a dig on Galei Yisrael (Israel Radio) at Tekuma - the dominant faction within the National Union - over the reported offer to give them reserved spots on a joint list. 

"There's a limit to how much can be given up on. Let them deign to come down from their holy heights and run (in January primaries) like mortals," Orbach said mockingly.

MK Orit Struk of the Tekuma faction struck back, saying "in these words there's a lot of exaggeration, misplaced insult and misplaced arrogance."

Meanwhile, party sources told Arutz Sheva that prominent National Union MK and current Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan is preparing to leave his party and officially join the Jewish Home, in order to run in the party primaries.

Such a development appear to indicate the extent to which most MKs from both factions - which are ideologically identical - want to avoid a split, which would severely weaken the showing for the religious-Zionist bloc.