The Yamina-Likud fiasco: A chance to rebuild

Sorry to disappoint Netanyahu's men, but dedicated public servants like Bennett, Shaked, and Smotrich won't be fading away so easily. Op-ed

David Rubin ,

David Rubin
David Rubin
צילום: יח"צ

After close to a year during which the Yamina alliance of Religious Zionist parties remained loyal to embattled Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-of center Likud bloc, the unappreciative Likud sent Religious Zionism packing, with a verbal kick in the rear for good measure.

The Yamina leader, outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, negotiating with Netanyahu on behalf of his fellow leaders Ayelet Shaked, Betzalel Smotrich, and Rabbi Rafi Peretz, reported that the Likud’s offer of two minor portfolios and one deputy portfolio was insufficient to provide the party with the influence needed to impact government policy.

The result? Yamina is heading to the opposition, which actually may be a blessing in disguise. Netanyahu’s designated Likud pit bulls loudly proclaimed “the end of the Bennett era” and then Bibi enticed the unpopular Rafi Peretz to leave Yamina to become a fig leaf in his coalition, offering him either the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry or a new Settlements Ministry, knowing full well that the only ministry with real influence over settlement is the Defense Ministry, which will now be in the hands of Blue and White’s Benny Gantz.

Now is the time to regroup and plan to revitalize a united Religious Zionist party that will not compromise on principles, and that will seek votes from the entire Right spectrum.
After all, Bennett proved that in recent weeks while he was still Defense Minister, by approving major upgrades and renovations, including necessary land expropriations, near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hevron, among other bold and long-needed actions. Only his position as Defense Minister enabled that to happen.

Sadly, and to his discredit, Peretz ignored the calls from Rabbi Chaim Druckman and Rabbi Zalman Melamed, among others, calling on the Yamina Knesset members to stay united, despite Netanyahu’s relentless attempts to split them apart - but that’s Peretz, the novice politician who does not realize what novice he is.

Since his entry into politics just one year ago, he has publicly put his foot in his mouth numerous times, made solo agreements like the one with Itamar Ben Gvir, an agreement he then betrayed, all the while resisting repeated calls by Smotrich, Shaked, and many others to support primaries for the leadership and candidates list in Yamina. Understandably, Peretz felt that trusting the Religious Zionist public with the ability to choose its leadership was too risky for him. He chose to protect himself rather than the public that he was chosen to represent.

Now that he has agreed to another betrayal, we can expect the already brewing rebellion against him in the Jewish Home faction to burst forth in the coming days.

So, what is next for Yamina, as it attempts to regroup after being treated so poorly by Netanyahu’s Likud? Sorry to disappoint Netanyahu’s pit bulls, but dedicated public servants like Bennett, Shaked, and Smotrich aren’t fading away so quickly. Everyone who is anyone knows that aside from Bennett’s accomplishments at Defense, former Justice Minister Shaked, in her short time in office made significant progress towards reining in a leftist activist judiciary, and Transportation Minister Smotrich, in his short time in office has pushed forward many necessary development projects in Judea and Samaria that had been ignored by his predecessors as well as many improvements in the transportation system.

Now is the time to regroup and plan to revitalize a united Religious Zionist party that will not compromise on principles, and that will seek votes from the entire Right spectrum, including those more religious and less religious and even those just traditional.

Being in the opposition will give the necessary breathing room and freedom to plan Yamina’s resurgence and to plan for a membership drive and primaries to be held within eighteen months. These steps will create excitement in the party. There is nothing that creates vibrancy in a political party more than giving the members the right to choose the candidates.

The leading rabbis of Religious Zionism must get behind this movement and come out publicly, as some have recently, making it clear that unity is essential. However, that unity can only be achieved if everyone who identifies with the principles of the movement in its various streams is eligible to be a candidate and/or to vote in the primaries. Once that is accomplished and primaries are held, all of the rabbis across the Religious Zionist spectrum must lead, by example, as a unified force to encourage unity and avoid encouraging wasteful break-off parties.

Netanyahu, by once again partnering with, and giving disproportionate power to the Left, has proven that for him, the Religious Zionist public is merely a source of votes, as he has continued to pursue our votes and then discard us. Unfortunately, much of those voters have naively and repeatedly accepted his promises at election time, only to be disappointed later.

With Rabbi Peretz out of the picture, Yamina has a real chance to return Religious Zionism to its former political strength and to grow. I call on Bennett. Smotrich, and Shaked to lead, to take risks, and to already start planning for the next election, which, given Netanyahu’s legal entanglements, may come sooner than we think.

David Rubin, former Mayor of Shiloh Israel, is the author of the book, “Trump and the Jews” and five other books. Rubin is the founder and president of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund, which supports therapeutic-educational projects in the biblical heartland of Israel. He can be found at or at