Chairman Smotrich's next goal

New National Union Chairman Betzalel Smotrich wants comprehensive union to prevent vote wastage: 'It'll be difficult, but it's necessary'.'

Shimon Cohen ,

Chairman Smotrich
Chairman Smotrich
Flash 90

Upon his election as National Union Chairman, Knesset Member Betzalel Smotritch told Arutz Sheva about his plans for the future formation of the party and his intentions to unite religious Zionism and its supporters.

Smotrich first explained his victory speech statement that he was not "happy" about the victory: "It wasn't easy to rejoice because the other side of this move meant a difficult price for Uri Ariel, a very dear man who's a partner and friend and mentor in many ways who came out hurt and that's sad," Smotritch said. "So even when you do the right thing and sparks fly it's painful and you have to know how to contain this complexity, to know we did the right thing for the party, for religious Zionism, the State and the People of Israel, but this joy was mixed with sadness and I very much hope that time will do its part and heal."

Since he speaks so respectfully of Uri Ariel, who led settlement in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, led the party, was a minister in Israel, etc., the question arises as to why he saw fit to contend: "This is a question that has preoccupied me very much in recent months. I consulted with many people from within and outside the party; activists, rabbis, and others. Our understanding of the great challenge before us is that the goal is to stabilize the political leadership of religious Zionism and return it to ideological, religious hands.

"It's a great challenge and apparently the talents that the L-rd blessed me with are appropriate for this matter. It was true that Bennett and Shaked were in the Jewish Home and they had to be challenged and a very clear statement put to them not to blur the identity and belonging to public values ​​and the flag and vision and hope; this becomes even more true after they left us. We have to re-position this leadership and apparently I have something to contribute to this need. This is what many thought, and this is without underestimating the prominence of Uri Ariel, who doesn't need my respect. He's been giving his soul to everything dear to us since before I was born. No one can take that away from him. I hope that time will do its part and heal and our paths will cross later on. Two people who work for the sake of Heaven - and with Uri it's certainly so - they know how to set aside slumps."

Smotrich was asked if there were any differences between him and Minister Ariel, if there was indeed a sense of alienation from Ariel, who nurtured him politically; a question that is sharpened by the smiles and handshakes of both of them at yesterday's voting.

Smotrich admits there are uneasy feelings: "It wasn't easy after the results, I respect and accept this and far from criticizing or judging it, Uri is a dear man and I'm convinced that I and we did the right thing, and I'm still feeling the consequences.

"I respect his choice, including the decision to resign, even if I don't like this decision, I respect it," he said. "I'm convinced that more exploits await him; he'll do and act, and I hope with G-d's help we too will have a part in it."

And hence to the goals he sets for himself, the first of which is a union between the two knitted-kippah parties. He says at this stage there is no single factor preventing this union, except that there are not yet two orderly lists. But after the lists are assembled, it will be possible to set out for unification.

Smotrich praises the party members who were chosen to be on the Knesset list as a "winning team that reflects the spectrum of religious Zionism," as he puts it, and explains that "yesterday we had great help from Above. I hope the members of Jewish Home will complete their internal processes and then we'll certainly unite. This connection mustn't be stopped, and we must continue on to other groups that are connected to these ideals and values. We don't have the privilege of entering into the adventures of throwing away votes into the garbage in these elections. These connections are possible, although we'll all have to overcome political difficulties, but we're used to the fact that big things come with difficulty. We'll unite and reach elections and we'll be beholden to the public trust."

Smotrich expresses confidence in the religious Zionist public as one who understands the importance of its political home and returns to it after the list has been assembled and presented to the voter. "We'll continue to be dominant players in the entire State of Israel and within its political system."

When he talks about expanding the union, the names of Eli Yishai on the one hand and Otzmah Yehudit on the other appear, and Smotrich says "the channels have been open well before yesterday and the day before, and we have a good and practical dialogue. For us to succeed it's best not to do it via the media. The ambition should be as many connections as possible on the background of the ideological way and flag."

And what about the day after the elections? Is he preparing for the day when he will find his place around the cabinet table as a minister? What role would he like? "We want to promote the country that we all love so much, and we'll search according to the political capabilities and the map that will be created, and we'll ask for the most significant ability to influence. It isn't right to go into names now," Smotrich said.

On the relationship with ministers Shaked and Bennett these days, Smotrich said: "They congratulated me, there's a connection between people who worked together, but they went on their way. It's behind us. We're facing forward to unify the house. My expectation of them is they be faithful to their statement when they embarked on their problematic course, and that is to go and enlarge the bloc. They'll roll up their sleeves and bring seats from Lapid, Gantz, Orly Levy, and Kahlon. Let them not make life easy for themselves and look for votes right under the flashlight, by us. Religious Zionism must stay home, all its spectrum, so let them go to bring votes from the secular Right as they promised."