Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben Dahan responded Thursday to the statement by dozens of religious Zionist rabbis that the United Right party must be lead by a religious person.
"The Jewish Home is a religious Zionist party headed by a religious person, and indeed Rabbi Rafi Peretz was elected chairman of the Jewish Home and leader of religious Zionism. One does not question it," Rabbi Ben Dahan told Arutz Sheva.
"We are talking about something completely different: a connection of four or five parties that are on the right of the Likud, some of whom define themselves as religious, and some of them do not. Therefore, the person who heads this union will not represent the religious aspect of all the parties," he said.
"If we want these parties to have significant power in the next government, and our connection to the Land of Israel will be expressed in the negative of the establishment of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, in the application of sovereignty, we must accumulate power - and this is reflected in mandates in the Knesset.
Ben Dahan believes that if Ayelet Shaked can maximize the power of a union created by the various right-wing parties, then she should lead it. "If it becomes clear in an in-depth survey among members of religious Zionism that if Ayelet Shaked heads the united list there is a chance that the mandates that the list will get more votes, then she should head it - with all due respect and forgiveness from the rabbis."
"I respect the rabbis very much, but I think they were wrong here. Let's not be naive. The National Union-Tekuma, which is considered more 'haredi' than the Jewish Home, for many years cooperated with non-religious Knesset members. It was headed by Avigdor Lieberman and Gandhi (Rehavam Ze'evi) and Aryeh Eldad, who did not come to represent religious Zionism in the religious sense, but rather to represent the world of national values and the unmediated connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel, And no one saw it as a flaw and said it was a connection that was forbidden.
"I am surprised and do not understand his requirement of the rabbis, unless they erred and misunderstood the situation. After all, neither the Jewish Home nor the New Right wants a full union," Rabbi Ben Dahan said.
"If these were halachic questions it would be a different matter. I think that the rabbis should not have gotten into the matter in the first place because it only reduces the rabbis' value in the eyes of the public. They need to set principles, rules, goals and objectives - but they should not not get into the political mess and ask who will be in charge. To this day, the rabbis of religious Zionism knew not to interfere in the small politics that it did not suit them."
He also responded to the words of Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who stated that the place of women is not in politics. "I very much respect Rabbi Aviner, but I do not accept his remarks on this matter. There were many religious Zionist rabbis who served in the Knesset, with a woman on the list, who did not see it as improper."
Ben Dahan also expressed his disappointment in the lack of progress in negotiations for a joint list between the Jewish Home and other parties. "I am very distressed about this, and I am doing my utmost to push, to speed up and promote negotiations, to have discussions and to reach agreements. Since I am not a member of the negotiating team, I cannot decide. It is not clear to me why things are not progressing."