New Nationalist Bloc of Yishai, Ariel and Ben-Ari?

Ben-Gvir dispels rumor of talks with Yishai, Ariel, but tells Arutz Sheva he's open to possibility of an ideological religious bloc.

Ari Yashar ,

Michael Ben-Ari, Uri Ariel on Temple Mount
Michael Ben-Ari, Uri Ariel on Temple Mount
Roy Sharon/Flash 90

There has been much talk of a new religious nationalist bloc to be formed by former Shas chairperson Eli Yishai and Tekuma faction head Uri Ariel (Jewish Home), with recent rumors suggesting MK Dr. Michael Ben-Ari's Otzma Yehudit party may be included, significantly increasing the ideological pull and electoral power of such a union.

Arutz Sheva spoke with Attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir of Otzma Yehudit to find out if the rumors of contacts between Ben-Ari, Yishai and Ariel were true, and learned that no such contact exists - for now.

Ben-Gvir emphasized that Otzma Yehudit is running as an independent party with strong values regarding Israel's Jewish nature and the need for a much tougher stance against terrorism.

However, Ben-Gvir noted that the party is not ruling out cooperation "with anyone loyal to the people of Israel and the nation of Israel," suggesting the possibility of a joint Knesset run if the ideological red lines of the party could be agreed on. Otzma Yehudit, in formally inaugurating its campaign last week, noted the possibility of a "technical bloc" with like-minded parties.

"Uri Ariel didn't talk with us," Ben-Gvir said dispelling the rumors of contacts, and saying humorously that Ariel apparently "erased our phone numbers" and "needs to fix his phone first" if he wants a joint list. Ariel is currently in the midst of last minute talks with Jewish Home's Naftali Bennett amid talk of an ideological rift between them and disagreements on primaries that could spell the end of their union.

As for Yishai, Ben-Gvir said for now they will need to wait and see as Yishai's split from Shas has not been officially finalized, although sources close to Yishai have already registered a new party indicating that the break is likely a done deal.

In the 18th Knesset, Ben-Ari was part of Ariel's National Union party, but he split off to form his Otzma Leyisrael party that paved the way for Otzma Yehudit after Ariel joined Jewish Home. Otzma Leyisrael failed to enter the 19th Knesset.

Ben-Ari argued that Ariel's merger with Jewish Home was done without any clear red lines being delineated - and indeed, Jewish Home stayed in the coalition as terrorists were released as a "gesture" and a covert building freeze was implemented in Judea and Samaria despite no formal external demand for it.

Those realities have led members of Ariel's Tekuma faction to strike out at Jewish Home, with MK Orit Struk warning it could become a "Likud B," although she added that she believes the gaps can be bridged. MK Yoni Chetboun resigned from Jewish Home on Sunday night, positioning himself to possibly join Yishai's new party, saying he would be more at home in a party "that preserves the Jewish identity and the values of the Torah."

If Ben-Ari, Yishai and Ariel were able to agree on clear terms upon which they would work together, the union could be a force to be reckoned with in the Knesset. A merger of Yishai and Ariel alone already has reportedly received seven mandates in polls, and this could be increased with Otzma Yehudit, which has said it aims to save "wasted" votes of right-wingers disenfranchised with Jewish Home.