Hotovely to Netanyahu: Repair rift with Religous Zionism

Tzipi Hotovely disappointed with PM's decision to appoint Ohana as justice minister over her, urges PM to end rift with Religious Zionism.

Shimon Cohen ,

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud)
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud)
Credit: Flash 90

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) doesn't deny her disappointment over Netanyahu's decision to appoint MK Amir Ohana as the temporary justice minister instead of her, but believes that the prime minister can still heal the rift with religious Zionism.

Hotovely begins her remarks with congratulations and wishes for success to Ohana, but adds, "I won't hide my disappointment that I could have been a significant bridge between the religious public which voted en masse for the Likud in the last two election campaigns. Netanyahu made a decision that he's [appointing someone] from the ruling party, among other reasons, because he has representation in the ruling party. I view my appointment as the first religious minister as a solution to the crisis with religious Zionism, a message of embracing this wonderful public who walks hand in hand with the prime minister."

Hotovely notes that she doesn't view the dismissals of Bennett and Shaked as another alienating step from Religious Zionism, but simply a natural step due to the fact they didn't receive a mandate from the public to continue their duties.

"There's a way to stabilize the relationship with Religious Zionism, and this way is through the representatives of Religious Zionism in the Likud, and I think this is an opportunity," Hotovely said. "I'm waiting for an appointment in the next round. After ten years and four election campaigns, filling a series of senior political positions, I assume that the most natural thing is that it will happen and the Religous Zionist community is waiting for it."

"I also believe that I can assist in this election campaign by receiving an appointment. This position is a call for direction for my public and anything that can help win this election campaign should be done - more unity and embrace of sectors which care about the future of the state."

In this context, Hotovely mentions the dismissal of Kobi Eliraz, a member of the Religious Zionist community, from his position at the Defense Ministry: "His dismissal hurt me a lot. I know that Kobi is a very worthy person who greatly helped the residents of Judea and Samaria and worked with all his heart in order that the settlement enterprise would succeed. This matter requires a rectification in the near future."

We asked Hotovely whether the cumulative facts of the dismissal of Bennett and Shaked, the dismissal of Kobi Eliraz and the preference of Amir Ohana over her for the position of Justice Minister indicate that the prime minister, who is responsible for all these moves, prefers other sectors that are not in his pocket, over religious Zionism. The LGBT sector is one of the sectors he's turning to now for not only politically-correct reasons but also because this sector is wavering between the right and the left.

"There's enough room around the government table to embrace all the sectors that the prime minister wants to embrace in this election campaign, the religious public, the Russian sector, etc. We lacked one mandate to form the government and seven Knesset seats fell below the threshold. We need to reclaim these mandates and it's better that they sit in a strong party in which every voice is known to go to the right. This isn't a competition between sectors, but between us and the left. We need to know how to form a government without Liberman, who said explicitly that he won't necessarily be in the next government. This is a difficult national battle, and in order to win, we have to leverage all of our electoral assets in the Likud. "

Regarding the ongoing contempt for Religious Zionism, we also mentioned Netanyahu's offer to the Labor Party, as there were many who warned it would happen. Hotovely said that it was a move of no choice and did not include the entire Labor Party. It would have come at the price of the Treasury portfolio and Deputy Defense Minister, which wouldn't have caused the entire government to turn left. "Essentially, Netanyahu wanted a right-wing government."

"The choice of Amir was after Yariv Levin, the most suitable candidate, refused the position. and the prime minister decided from his own considerations to choose Ohana, but it's not too late to fix the relationship with Religious Zionism. There's an opportunity here and I see myself as a bridge for this."

"People are coming to me, saying that they feel disappointed that after years of loyalty, this is the treatment they get from the prime minister. I want to take advantage of this platform to tell the prime minister that you have an opportunity to correct the rift with Religious Zionism, especially when dealing with issues that are important to this public, such as values, identity and education. If Netanyahu will see these elections as a historic opportunity to bring voters from Religous Zionism, he needs to use the person who helped him bring these votes to the Likud all of these years. I've been his right hand to bring the religious Zionist public to the Likud and I'm sure that this public expects to be represented around the government table."