How good and how pleasant it is that brothers dwell together. (Psalm 133:1)
(June 25, 2019 / Israel Hayom) Far-right activist Itamar Ben-Gvir’s Otzma Yehudit Party is breaking ranks with the more mainstream, religious-Zionist Jewish Home party, Otzma Yehudit announced on Tuesday.
In a letter to Jewish Home leader Rafi Peretz, party officials wrote: “Unfortunately, over the past few months we have not been treated fairly and your conduct and that of Jewish Home officials was that of those who use Otzma Yehudit and throw it away.”
The letter stated that it was Otzma Yehudit running on a joint ticket with Jewish Home and National Union that led to an electoral victory in April, which, if it hadn’t been for Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman forcing a new election, could have led to the establishment of a right-wing government.
After mentioning that both Peretz and National Union leader Bezalel Smotrich had been appointed to ministerial posts, the letter states: “Despite all this, and despite the fact that more than 70,000 Otzma Yehudit voters voted for the United Right, over the course of the past few months the conduct by Jewish Home officials was disgraceful.”
“When it was decided that [a new] election would be held [in September], your started holding briefings against Otzma Yehudit. … Every day, we’ve heard different slanders, and as if that wasn’t enough, you even refused to sit down with us and discuss how you could keep your promise, even after you were already appointed to a ministerial position.”
The three parties that make up the United Right—Otzma Yehudit, Jewish Home and the National Union—are reported to have agreed prior to the April 9 election that if one of the three party leaders were to be given a ministerial post after the election, they would resign their Knesset seat in favor of Ben-Gvir.
When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government and new elections were called in September, Netanyahu appointed both Peretz and Smotrich to ministerial posts in the interim government. Ben-Gvir then called on Peretz to resign as a Knesset member, but Peretz refused.
The letter admonished Peretz that “this isn’t how you treat partners … as the education minister, you know that the correct definition of that behavior is ‘ungrateful.’ ”
The letter concluded with an official declaration that Otzma Yehudit was breaking off its partnership with Jewish Home: “We were pushed down to unrealistic places [on the list] and received much less than we deserve, and we did so out of responsibility to the public, but apparently our generosity was misinterpreted by you as a license to keep trampling Otzma Yehudit.”
According to the signatories of the letter, Otzma Yehudit is working to create partnerships with other parties for the Sept. 17 election that will “strengthen the right.”