Bennett, Shaked form ‘New Right’ party, uniting religious and secular

In an announcement Saturday evening, Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked said they were leaving the Jewish Home to form a new right-wing party that will embrace religious and secular Israelis. 

By Adina Katz, World Israel News

Jewish Home party leader and Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, also of the Jewish Home, announced the formation of a new political party ahead of the upcoming national election in April, calling it “The New Right.”

Addressing a press conference in Tel Aviv Saturday night, they stressed that over the past six years, the Jewish Home became an “influential party,” enumerating successes such as new legislation preventing the release of terrorists imprisoned in Israeli jails.

The announcement came amid internal feuding in the party, reportedly between Bennett and members of the Tekuma branch of the Jewish Home – Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and MK Betzalel Smotrich.

Jewish Home Member of Knesset Shuli Moalem-Refaeli reportedly will join Shaked and Bennett.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu issued a rebuke to Bennett, accusing him of creating upheaval on the right through his frequent challenges to Netanyahu’s leadership and policy. The prime minister warned against splitting the right, saying it could empower the left and help them win the national election. He referred directly to the 1992 elections, when the right was split and resulted in a left-wing victory that led to the Oslo Accords.

At the news conference, Bennett criticized the Netanyahu government for reneging on its promise to destroy the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar as well as for enabling the transfer of $15 million to the Hamas terror group while it was firing rockets at Israel.

Both Bennett and Shaked stressed that the new party would stand against the creation of a Palestinian state and respect Jewish tradition while uniting right-wing religious and secular.

If such a party had been formed 25-30 years ago, the destruction of Jewish communities of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip in 2005 along with the evacuation of thousands of Jewish families would not have happened, Bennett charged.

Last month, after former Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s resignation and before the Knesset decided to hold elections this spring, Bennett demanded the defense ministry and threatened to otherwise leave the coalition and bring down the government. At a news conference that followed, he and Shaked backed down after Netanyahu’s address to the nation the previous evening, urging the coalition leaders to “show responsibility” and not necessitate new elections during a military campaign, referring to the conflict with Hamas in Gaza.