National Union: There Are Still Gaps with Bennett

Uri Ariel's National Union/Tekuma rejects reports that a unity agreement with the Jewish Home is close.

Hezki Baruch ,

Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel
Naftali Bennett and Uri Ariel
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

The National Union/Tekuma party, headed by Minister Uri Ariel, rejected on Monday evening reports that Ariel and Jewish Home chairman Naftali Bennett are close to signing an agreement to run together in the upcoming elections.

Officials in the National Union said there are still gaps between Ariel and Bennett and that the two are scheduled to have another meeting on Tuesday morning.

Talk of a possible split between Jewish Home and National Union/Tekuma began surfacing several weeks ago, after rumors of a new deal with Tekuma consisting of a full combination between the parties caused considerable controversy within Jewish Home.  

The parties united prior to the previous elections, in a move hailed by most of the religious-Zionist public as an end to factionalism and which saw their joint Knesset showing rise from 7 to 12 seats. However, they did not formally merge, and talks to achieve such a merger have been a source of contention between the two camps.

The deal proposed by Bennett would consist of a full combination of the two parties in their legal, financial and political aspects, as well as a number two spot on the party's Knesset list reserved for the Tekuma chairman. It would essentially make Housing and Construction Minister and Tekuma Chairman Uri Ariel the only MK other than party chairpersons not required to take part in campaigning; it would also ensure Tekuma 120 members on the party central committee, which will be expanded to a total of 1,300 members, as well as spots in Jewish Home institutions in the next term.

Ariel, however, is insisting on a larger number of spots reserved for National Union MKs.

Then, last week, a tense exchange reportedly erupted between Bennett and Ariel in a party faction meeting.

The public spat led to rumors of not only a split, but to discord within the party as a whole, with several MKs trading barbs in full view of the media.