Rafi Peretz addresses Jewish Home Central Committee
Rafi Peretz addresses Jewish Home Central CommitteeFlash 90

A senior Jewish Home Party official yesterday attacked Education Minister Rabbi Rafi Peretz's announcement of party primaries in the coming June, saying the announcement "buries" Peretz's initiative to merge with the National Union.

"The man signed on the deleted 'a word is a word' tweet in less than one week violated three agreements: with the Jewish Home Central Committee, Otzma Yehudit, and the National Union, when it was made known to him tonight that there would be no merger. A word is a word," the source barbed.

According to the senior official, party Central Committee members, including deputy mayors, branch heads, and former Knesset Members have been examining how to rebuild the Jewish Home party in recent days. "There's one thing in agreement: Rabbi Rafi Peretz can no longer serve as party chairman.

"In recent days, there's been overall organization by party members who intend to sign 250 members of the Central Committee who will require the party's Central Committee to convene to end Rabbi Peretz' term as chairman. Rabbi Peretz's announcement is nothing but a white flag in the face of the many pressures coming from the field," the source said.

Education Minister Peretz earlier announced to party and Central Committee members that elections for Jewish Home chairmanship will be held in June.

A letter to Central Committee members by Minister Peretz reads: "Ever since I took office, I always knew that I would have to get more legitimacy from the public. Unfortunately for us, the State of Israel went to election campaign after election campaign without a window in which internal elections could be held. I thank the members of the Jewish Home Public Council and the party Central Committee who gave me their confidence and reaffirmed my election to chair the list.

"In the past year, I have met many of you, listened attentively to your needs and desires, and there is no doubt in my mind that in order to maintain a vibrant, breathing, active party that has public confidence - we are committed to holding a democratic process of pre-election," Peretz wrote.

Rabbi Peretz also addressed the turmoil in the political system culminating in reneging on the agreement with the Otzma Yehudit Party: "We're ending a stormy week in the political system, especially in religious Zionism. The list-closing process was one of the murky moments of religious Zionist politics. I needed to make a difficult and unpopular decision contrary to my promise and in complete contradiction to the inner integrity that accompanied me throughout my life.

"I will not elaborate again on the grip of pressure exerted on me by all the rabbinic figures in religious Zionism and Israeli politics. In the end, I was faced with two options, both of which exact a great and heavy cost. Leadership needs to make difficult decisions, even with a heavy personal price. To put it bluntly: For the people of Israel and the Land of Israel, I made the decision even though it was clear the public price I'd have to pay."

The Minister added in the letter that he appreciates all the efforts by MK Moti Yogev and is confident that he will continue to contribute to party leadership.

Peretz explained that announcing party primaries was made in collaboration with key Jewish Home representatives. "After consulting with deputies and councilors and key activists in Jewish Home, I decided on a series of confidence-building measures aimed at rehabilitating the party and bringing it back to its glory days. These moves will strengthen the Home, increase trust in it, and bring as many audiences back to the religious Zionist party as possible."

The elections for Jewish Home will take place during June, probably on June 9, 2020.

A representative election committee will be set up consisting of seven members, most of whom will be elected by the municipal forum. If the elections for the 24th Knesset are held early, elections will be held for the party's chairman and Central Committee list within one month of the announcement of the election.

The decision on electing the party chairman will be brought within two weeks for approval by the party Central Committee. Amendments will also be made in the constitution to restore trust and balance between the Central Committee and party institutions and leadership. The parties will elect a representative agreed on by both who will draft party bylaw amendments and the changes to the bylaws will be approved.