Otzma Yehudit blasted for wasting right-wing votes as leader blames everyone else for failure

Yemina’s Smotrich slammed Otzma leader Itamar Ben Gvir as a “puffed up peacock.” Ben Gvir says the right-wing machine sabotaged his party.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the just dissolved right-wing Yemina faction, lashed out Wednesday at Otzma Yehudit leader Itamar Ben Gvir for “irresponsibility” and wasting right-wing votes as the party is not going to cross the electoral threshold following Tuesday’s elections.

“Ben Gvir is running from television studio to studio this morning like a puffed-up peacock,” he tweeted. “Zero taking of responsibility, zero self-examination, zero care about the results. Everyone is to blame but him. At least this morning the truth is stronger than he is: Ben Gvir again burned tens of thousands of votes for the Right, for the fifth time!”

He called out the chairman of the far-right party for running “a false campaign, dragging tens of thousands of innocents who believed his lies and wanted to save the Land of Israel,” and wrote that “in a proper world, the man would be ashamed to show his face in public.”

Ben Gvir defends himself

In a post-election interview on Radio 103 FM, Ben Gvir defended the decision to run independently for the Knesset when the interviewer said that the right-wing “wanted to kill him” for wasting votes.

He said the votes were there, but his followers couldn’t stand up to the pressure of the massive political and media barrage from those he said should have been his allies.

He blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for hitting out at him “over and over” in the past week instead of making him into a partner, as he said Blue and White head Benny Gantz did for the smaller parties on the Left.

He pointed to Yemina leaders Ayelet Shaked, Bezalel Smotrich and Naftali Bennett for behavior unbecoming of fellow right-wingers.

“You don’t want a partnership, that’s your right,” he said, referring to Yemina’s refusal to offer what Otzma considered a respectable enough place on the joint right-wing list. “But to cause harm? To fire into the armored personal carrier? [an Israeli expression for friendly fire] again and again?”

He also charged the religious-Zionist press for attacking his party. He said the right-media always complain that the left-wing media isn’t fair.

“But they did to us what they blame” the Left for doing, he said. “Time after time, they spilled our blood, and I ask myself, ‘Why?’”

Dumb for rejecting earlier offer

Attorney and radio host Yoram Sheftel, who had been offered first place on Otzma’s Knesset list, severely criticized Ben Gvir on Wednesday. .

“Yemina is dumb for not offering him place number five or six, and he’s dumb for not taking the eighth place they offered him,” Sheftel said.

“The result is that he’s out and the national camp has a seat or two less in the Knesset. That’s the great wisdom of Otzma Yehudit, nothing more,” he said.

“I really hope that in Round 3 – and there is going to be a Round 3 – on the Right it will be strictly prohibited for Otzma Yehudit to run alone.”

Sheftel had predicted two weeks ago that Otzma would not be able to cross the electoral threshold and called for the party to quit the race.

“With all due respect, there is no way in the world that 70,000 [votes] can turn into 140,000,” he said on September 5th in a joint interview with Ben Gvir on Channel 20. “For the sake of preventing the establishment of a devilish red government, they must retire.”

As of this writing, with about 90% of the votes counted, Otzma has received 74,622 votes.