Rabbi Rafi Peretz
Rabbi Rafi Peretz Kobi Richter/TPS

Education Minister and Jewish Home chairman Rabbi Rafi Peretz explains why he agreed to place Ayelet Shaked in the top spot on the United Right list, and claims that the only consideration was the status of religious Zionism.

"When I realized that I would have to step aside for the sake of saving the right-wing government and strengthening the steadfast place of religious Zionism - I did," Peretz says in an interview with the Israel Hayom newspaper, which will be published in full on Friday.

"We didn't give up our position on the list, we wanted five spots in the top eight, six spots in the top ten - and that's what we got. Everyone paid a price along the way. I don't feel like we lost."

"It was hard to give up the top spot," he admits, "but not in the personal sense. I thought that someone who grew out of the movement should lead religious Zionism. I realized that in the Jewish Home there would obviously be someone who grew up in religious Zionism, but now a new unified right is launching in which we will allow the electorate to win, with this connection continuing up to the election. After that we will not continue together. The public interest overcomes the personal interest."

Peretz stresses that the United Right list will only recommend Binyamin Netanyahu as a candidate for Prime Minister. On Avigdor Liberman, he says that "as a man who was expelled from his home, I tell you that Liberman will lead us to a second disengagement. We see the conference organized by President Trump, it is a welcome initiative but if we have left-wing government, the result could be devastating in terms of settlement."

The Education Minister responds to recordings that revealed that his wife, Michal, is involved in national politics and makes decisions related to the Jewish Home party. "I didn't think that in politics I would have to deal with slander and gossip," Peretz says. "I was in charge of dozens of operational activities. I made many operational decisions during my military service, managed a military preparatory academy for 27 years while having to make difficult decisions including during the evacuation of Gush Katif.”

"I consult a lot of people, I'm proud that I also consult my wife who is my partner, I'm glad I had the right to talk to her, but I make my own decisions. At no point did I hear complaints that my wife was making decisions until I got into politics."

On the firestorm of the conversion therapy for gays that began following his interview on Channel 12 News, Peretz says, "There was an attempt at a lynch here, a culture of silencing of opinions that smell of tradition and conservatism. After the headline came out, no one went to actually watch the interview, because anyone who actually watched the interview understood that I obviously didn't mean the awful things that they were trying to attribute to me. I'm against such treatments and in favor of professional emotional support for boys experiencing distress."

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