Following on talks in recent weeks between Jewish Home and the Tekuma faction that ran on a joint list with it in the last elections, the unity deal offered by Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett to Tekuma Chairman Uri Ariel was revealed Monday morning.
In a letter detailing the deal, which was sent by Jewish Home director general Nir Orbach to Tekuma director general Ofir Soffer and seen by Arutz Sheva, Bennett's party calls for an official unification of the parties so as not to bring political religious Zionism "years back."
The deal would consist of a full combination of the two parties in their legal, financial and political aspects, as well as a number two spot on the party's Knesset list reserved for the Tekuma chairman. In essence, the move would make Ariel the only MK other than party chairpersons not required to take part in campaigning.
Likewise Tekuma members would be able to take part in primaries without limitation, removing the lengthy qualification that Jewish Home's recent controversial constitution stipulated. Tekuma would also be ensured 120 members on the party central committee, which will be expanded to a total of 1,300 members, as well as spots in Jewish Home institutions in the next term.
"The people of Israel need a strong Jewish home that represents in the most clear, simple and transparent way the set of values we were educated on," wrote Orbach. Jewish Home sources pushed for the proposal to be accepted, saying "there's no replacement for unity."
The National Union, the party of which Tekuma is the last remaining faction after joining with Jewish Home's list in the last elections, refused to respond to the unity offer.
However, one National Union source told Arutz Sheva "this isn't a proposal, it's just another meaningless headline."
"We don't want to create an escalation and therefore we're not making a response for the moment, but Naftali should understand that his unilateral management won't continue forever," warned the source.
Sharp criticism for the proposal was heard also from within Jewish Home, as the party's secular branch struck out at the move as being "problematic from a democratic standpoint."
Secular branch head Inbal Lieber said "the proposal to guarantee the second place in the list to minister Uri Ariel is an undemocratic step, which allows the supremacy of a single source free of all efforts to run in public elections."
Speaking about Jewish Home's controversial move to more actively target secular and Druze constituencies in what some warn is an abandoning of religious Zionist values, Lieber complained about the current balance of religious and secular members of the party.
"There aren't enough non-religious members in the internal institutions. Ensuring (places) for Tekuma members - who are all religious - means widening the institutions from religious to more religious, and therefore this isn't true unity when there is no representation for additional sectors," argued Lieber.
Advocating for her own branch, Lieber stated "if they want a true Jewish home they must put in secular branch members to the institutions as well under the same framework of ensured spots, with an emphasis on the central committee of the party."