An interesting note out of Israel finds that a group of senior conservative ministers are starting a brand new political party to be called the “New Right” Party.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the leader of the current conservative religious Habayit Hayehudi party, has announced that he is ready to launch a new party that leans to the right but is, perhaps, less religiously motivated.
Israeli politics is sometimes hard for Americans to grasp since we really only have two major parties and also since we are not a religion-based government. While Israel’s Knesset is secular, it is also very cued in to religious identities, unlike our political organizations here in the U.S.
The problem for Habayit Hayehudi is that Minister Naftali Bennett (the one forming the new party) has been trying to gain more independence as the chairman. He has faced extreme resistance from members of the HH party over his quest for more leeway to act. Indeed, as Israeli newspaper Haaretz notes, his opponents have taken him before the party’s “internal court” several times to get him to stop his efforts.
Well, apparently Bennett has had enough and he has signaled that he and others are going to split away from the HH and start a new conservative party.
The HH Party is no surly fringe group. Current polls expect it to gain up to 12 seats in the upcoming election.
Bennett does not yet seem quite ready to formally start the party, though:
Bennett and Shaked are pressuring another lawmaker, Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, to join them and leave Habayit Hayehudi, which currently has eight seats in Knesset. To officially break away from the party, Bennett and Shaked require at least one more lawmaker (a third of the party’s Knesset caucus) to leave the party with them and win election funding.
Habayit Hayehudi is an Orthodox religious Zionist party which was formed by a merger in 2013 of the National Religious Party, also known as Mafdal, and Tkuma, an ultra-Orthodox Zionist list. In the previous Knesset, Habayit Hayehudi had 12 seats, four of which were occupied by members of Tkuma. Today, however, Tkuma has only two lawmakers in Knesset, Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel and MK Bezalel Smotrich. In recent years, Tkuma complained it was under-represented in the joint list, and Bennett has disapproved of Tkuma’s line on many occasions.
Anyway, it is interesting that Israeli politics is still growing on the right.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.