Once again, voices in the national-religious parties are calling for unity - in time for the possibly upcoming national elections.  A historic merger of three or four parties may be on the way

MK Rabbi Yitzchak Levy (National Union), is the latest to make an impassioned plea for unity.  "If we unite and ask the public to choose our leader and Knesset representation," he told Israel National News' Hebrew newsmagazine, "we will definitely increase our strength.  But if we remain as is - four parties running as one - we are likely to decrease in size."

MK Levy, who was appointed this week a Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, is the co-founder, together with MK Effie Eitam, of Achi - a movement that seeks to unite all four national-religious parties, including itself, into one.  The parties are the National Religious Party, Moledet, Tekumah, and Achi.  The latter three are currently part of the National Union bloc.

Achi is a Hebrew acronym for the words Land, Society and Judaism.  MKs Levy and Eitam have been running a nationwide registration drive for people who wish to unite the entire religious-Zionist public and its supporters under one political roof.

Eitam to the Likud?

Ironically, however, it could be that a historic unity will be achieved - but without the active participation of Achi.  This is partly due to recent indications that Achi co-founder MK Eitam is considering joining the Likud.

Historic Talks

A highly-placed source in the NRP-NU told IsraelNationalNews that "historic talks" are being held between leading members of the NRP, Tekumah and Moledet, and that "one united party - not just a technical list for the purpose of Knesset elections - is likely to be the result."  He said that the problem of "Who will lead?" is to be solved in nationwide primaries.

And who will be the MKs?  The answer, according to the source, is "another historic first.  The MKs have apparently agreed to allow their future to be determined by a council of public figures, rabbis, settlement leaders, and others. The council will choose the Knesset list - and there will apparently be no guaranteed slots for the incumbents Knesset Members, at least not in the top ten. This is unprecedented in Knesset history."

While on the topic, the source added, "As someone who has worked in the Knesset for a number of years, I can tell you that there is no other Knesset faction in which the MKs work so harmoniously and help each other.  In no other party is there anything like this. Even the two MKs who were at very strong odds with each other a while ago now work together.  It is important to remember that, even though sometimes the national-religious press likes to present an opposite picture."

MK Levy insists that the Achi plan can work, however. "We began this drive with the slogan, 'Uniting Everyone," he said, "and our solution to this end is to hold nation-wide primaries to choose the leader of our united list, enable practical involvement of wider circles in the national-religious and secular public, and allow the public a say in choosing the Knesset list."

"This is a good plan, and the only way to bring about unity of the four parties," Levy added.  "I hope the other parties will accept it.  The current situation of four parties is abnormal; we need a leader and one party that will lead our moves. I have hope that this can be done. Time is running out, we can't know when elections will be held, and we have to make the decisions as quickly as possible."

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