Otzma Yehudit declares breakup of right-wing union

Itamar Ben-Gvir claims that there is a dismissive attitude within the right-wing bloc toward his party.

By World Israel News Staff 

In a move apparently spurred on by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s appointment of Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich as cabinet ministers, the Otzma Yehudit party has announced that it is breaking off from the right-wing unity faction.

Before the April Knesset election, Otzma Yehudit joined forces with the Jewish Home bloc, including Peretz and Smotrich, to form a ticket under the new name of Union of Right-Wing Parties. It earned five seats in the 120-seat Israeli parliament and shut out a competing breakaway party, the New Right, headed by former cabinet ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, which failed to gain enough votes in the election to enter the Knesset.

However, due to Netanyahu’s inability to form a governing majority in parliament, the Knesset voted to dissolve and called another election, to take place on September 17.

In the meantime, the prime minister fired Bennett and Shaked from the transition cabinet and appointed Peretz as education minister and Smotrich as transportation minister.

In the aftermath of those ministerial appointments, Otzma Yehudit’s Itamar Ben Gvir is arguing that Peretz and Smotrich had earlier pledged to resign as Members of Knesset if they became cabinet ministers but have failed to follow through. None of the five Union MKs are from Otzma Yehudit, but if the two new ministers would quit their parliamentary seats, Ben Gvir could enter.

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The Otzma Yehudit member charges that this is only the latest example of a dismissive attitude within the right-wing bloc toward his party, and therefore he and his colleagues, he says, will look to form another alignment for the September ballot.

Smotrich responded that Ben Gvir should become an MK but that it cannot be arranged currently. He called on Peretz, who leads the Union, and Ben Gvir to meet immediately to work out their differences.