MKs Orbach and Katz agree to run together
MKs Orbach and Katz agree to run togetherIsrael news photo: PR

MK Uri Orbach, chairman of the Jewish Home Knesset faction, and National Union Chairman MK Ya’akov "Ketzaleh" Katz signed a statement on Monday evening, in which they declared that their two parties will run together on a joint list for the next Knesset.

“Considering the needs of the public and out of public responsibility we will work together to strengthen the power of Zionism in the fields of education, settlement, society, security and in shaping the country's Jewish character,” read the statement.

Katz and Orbach added, “An agreement between the parties will be formed after the representatives of each party are separately chosen and will be subject to approval of the chosen chairmen of both parties.”

Earlier on Monday, a group of Torah luminaries from the National Religious movement gathered in Jerusalem and urged the two parties to run on a single Knesset list.

A statement from the rabbis said, “It is imperative that there be a single Religious Zionist list in the coming elections in order that we be able to strengthen the influence of Torah, our hold on Greater Israel, and the Jewish identity of Israel.”

The letter was signed by Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Chaim Steiner, Rabbi Michael Hershkowitz, Rabbi David Chai Hacohen, Rabbi Avi Smutrich, Rabbi Shimon Cohen and Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Dean of the Beit El Yeshiva.

The signing of the agreement came after some discussions by both parties, and some disagreements among its members, over whether to run on a single list.

National Union MKs Aryeh Eldad and Michael Ben Ari welcomed a call from the Jewish Home to join its census and primaries, but MKs Katz and Uri Ariel hesitated.

Meanwhile, a new element was thrown into the mix on Sunday, as former Netanyahu bureau chief Naftali Bennett announced the formation of a new Knesset faction.

Bennett said the new movement aims “to unify religious Zionism with the secular national camp and create a new dialogue [and] to be a significant counterbalance to Netanyahu after the elections.”

Concerns have been expressed that Bennett’s new party would take votes away from the religious Zionist parties.

“The last thing the religious Zionist community needs right now is more division,” Katz declared after Bennett’s announcement. “It’s a shame to see thousands of votes being thrown away.”