Rafi Peretz splits from Yemina party to join Netanyahu

Peretz will become Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, according to initial reports.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Rabbi Rafi Peretz will split from the Yemina faction to join the unity government.

Peretz is the head of the Jewish Home party, a member of the Yemina faction. He is outgoing head of the Education Ministry and will take charge of the Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs and National Projects.

If reports are accurate, Peretz felt personally slighted by the other heads of Yemina. He was said to have been left out of key decisions of the faction, including whether or not to go to the opposition.

Yemina, a faction made up of three parties to the right of the Likud party, failed to reach an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join the unity government.

Yemina is led by outgoing Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the New Right party.

Despite last-minute efforts on Wednesday between the Likud and and Yemina, the two could not come to agreement, with the parties exchanging volleys on social media.

Netanyahu insisted in a video posted on social media that Yemina was demanding too much, saying they wanted four important cabinet posts while only having six members.

Whether or not Yemina wanted four seats, the issue of influence in the government was clearly a major factor. Yemina said it wouldn’t sit in a government in which it couldn’t have an impact on policy. The faction said the unity government would be in essence a left-wing government, albeit headed for the first half of its term by Netanyahu.

The faction leaders said Netanyahu was abandoning his most loyal and strongest ideological ally.

“Our eight years in the Netanyahu government are over today,” Bennett said in a post on Thursday.

“The prime minister chose to get rid of Yemina, which was his national backbone, and chose the opposite, easier path. A way that is not Right. A road without sovereignty, without governance, without national standing. I have never voted against Netanyahu in the Knesset. I have never suggested another candidate for establishing a government.”