Smotrich to Arutz Sheva:
'I agree to primaries but I want a religious party'

MK Bezalel Smotrich says the unity between the National Union and Jewish Home won't fall apart over primaries.

Hezki Baruch ,

Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel Smotrich
Miriam Alster/Flash 90

MK Bezalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) related on Thursday to the demand of his party, the National Union, to unite with the Jewish Home party. The National Union (Tekuma) chooses its candidates in a central committee, but the Jewish Home holds primaries and is urging National Union members to run in the Jewish Home primaries rather than having those on their list placed on reserved spots on the Jewish Home Knesset list.

"I'm willing to run in the primaries," Smotrich told Arutz Sheva, adding that unity between the Jewish Home and the National Union would not collapse over the issue of primaries, but rather on the question of whether the party would remain a religious Zionist party.

"One of the conditions I have is that there will always be a religious majority in the party," he continued, and added, "Are they really opening the party to members of the National Union? Can changes be made to the party mechanism?”

"Before I run for the primaries, I want clear guidelines on both political and religious issues as well on other issues," Smotrich clarified.

According to Smotrich, Education Minister Naftali Bennett wants to open the Jewish Home party to other Israeli right-wing audiences, to add more secular and Druze members, “and turn the party from a religious Zionist to an Israeli party.”

He opined that with all due respect to Bennett's wishes, there is a need for a national religious party. "I'm really not ashamed of that. I do not think that talking about a sectoral party is a bad thing, because the national religious sector is the least segmented. We are the future of the State of Israel. When I take care of my sector, I take care of the entire Jewish people.”

"I still think that primaries are a bad thing, but the unity will not collapse over that. The question is whether the party will remain a national religious party or become an Israeli party," concluded Smotrich.

The National Union recently sent a letter the the Jewish Home asking for clarification about their running together as they did in the last elections.

Bennett this week urged the National Union to run in the Jewish Home primaries, saying, There's a big difference between 2013, when we were just getting into politics and unifying what had been until now two separate parties was a complex process. Then, it was logical. Now, we're four years later. We get along terrifically. I don't differentiate between Tekuma and the Jewish Home. Why should Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and Ayelet Shaked run in the primaries, but Bezalel and Uri [Ariel] shouldn't?"