Smotrich: Here's why Otzma candidate isn't an MK

United Right leader says party tried to keep promise with Otzma Yehudit faction, but cannot, because the 21st Knesset is a temporary gov't.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Bezalel Smotrich
Bezalel Smotrich
Photo by Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (United Right) on Tuesday morning responded to Otzma Yehudit's Itamar Ben-Gvir, who complained that the United Right's Jewish Home faction did not keep its agreement with the party's Otzma Yehudit faction.

Earlier on Tuesday, Otzma Yehudit announced its decision to split from the United Right, which until then had included the Jewish Home, National Union, and Otzma Yehudit parties.

Part of the parties' agreement had been that when a Jewish Home candidate was appointed minister, he would apply the Norwegian Law, stepping down as MK to allow an Otzma candidate to become a Knesset member. This, however, did not happen.

"Let's start with the obvious: Agreements need to be kept," Smotrich said. "There isn't and won't be any argument about that. If I were able, I would have immediately done everything to get Itamar into the Knesset. Itamar is a friend, he's a talented person who can do a lot, and he deserves it and so do Otzma voters. But to our great dismay, this is simply not possible at the moment. I looked into it, I tried, but it simply is impossible."

"If a government would have been formed, the Norwegian Law would have been applied within a week and Rabbi Rafi [Peretz] and I would have resigned as Knesset members and allowed our friend Itamar Ben-Gvir and Orit Strock to take our places, as we agreed.

"The Norwegian Law passed during the 20th Knesset as a temporary Law, and therefore must be passed again after the 21st Knesset was sworn in.

"But this government is a temporary government, and we cannot apply the Norwegian Law in it. Despite this, at Itamar's request, I investigated the possibility of resigning from the Knesset in the usual fashion in order to allow him to enter. But this is not legally possible. According to Basic Law: The Government, during a temporary government, the Prime Minister is only allowed to appoint Knesset members to be ministers. So, if we resign from the Knesset, we will cease being ministers, and that, of course, is illogical and not what the agreement asks.

"I explained this to our dear friends in Otzma, as well as to other friends who inquired about this issue out of sincere concern.

"It is unnecessary to state that the National Union's commitment to the union with Otzma Yehudit still stands. I like Itamar and the other Otzma members. We will continue in this path, and G-d willing in the next Knesset we will be even larger.

"On the basis of this union we will, G-d willing, join with even more people, and as soon as possible, so that we can reach the next elections and maximize our political power. We will all benefit from this, and the Jewish nation, especially, will benefit from it."