Rabbis press Jewish Home, National Union to reach election deal

After talks between the parties break down a second time in a week, senior national-religious rabbis intervene in hopes of brokering deal.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Betzalel Smotrich (right) and Rabbi Peretz (left)
Betzalel Smotrich (right) and Rabbi Peretz (left)
Hadas Parush/Flash90

After talks between the Jewish Home and National Union factions broke down for a second time in less than a week, rabbis from the Religious Zionist community are applying pressure to both sides to reach an accord before the February 21st deadline.

Negotiations between the two right-wing parties, which ran on a joint list in 2013 and 2015, reached a dead-end over the weekend, prompting newly-minted Jewish Home chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz to pursue a possible joint bid with the Likud – an offer which was turned down.

Following pressure from Religious Zionist leaders, Peretz and National Union chairman Betzalel Smotrich resumed talks, only to reach an impasse Wednesday.

Nevertheless, by Thursday morning, the Jewish Home had announced that a preliminary draft for an agreement had been drawn up, though the National Union denied that any breakthrough had been made.

With polls showing neither faction passing the 3.25% electoral threshold required to enter the Knesset, leading national-religious rabbis have decided to intervene, calling both sides to a meeting in the hopes of brokering an agreement.

The two sides have just one week left until the February 21st deadline for all parties’ Knesset lists to be turned in to the election committee for this April’s election.

Rabbis Chaim Druckman, dean of the Ohr Etzion Yeshiva and Rabbi Zalman Melamed of the Beit El Yeshiva called on both Smotrich and Peretz to a meeting at Rabbi Druckman’s residence at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

At the meeting, the rabbis are expected to pressure both Smotrich and Peretz to soften their demands and agree to an alliance.

The rabbis are also expected to meet with members of the Jewish Home and National Union’s negotiating teams.