Bennett Slammed for 'Party Takeover'

MK Yoni Chetboun says the proposed Habayit Hayehudi charter, which gives chairman Naftali Bennett new powers, violates religious Zionist values.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Naftali Bennett speaking at the Knesset.
Naftali Bennett speaking at the Knesset.Credit: Emil Salman
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

MK Yoni Chetboun (Habayit Hayehudi), in an unprecedented move, on Thursday criticized his party’s chairman, Naftali Bennett, and accused him of attempting to take control of the party and its institutions.

Chetboun criticized the new party charter being touted by Bennett, claiming it amounts to “harsh trampling of religious Zionist values and greatly violates public trust.”

“Habayit Hayehudi is not a business platform or a startup enterprise," Chetbound said. "It’s a movement with decades’ worth of history and values, including respect for the Torah and the government, and the religious Zionist movement. There are those looking to destroy it, and we will not allow that."

According to a draft of the proposed party charter, the chairman would be granted the authority to appoint a candidate of his own choosing to every fifth position on the party list. In addition, any potential candidate would be required to be a party member for at least 30 months, and the party chairman would have the sole power to waive this requirement. Executive positions, including ministerial and vice-ministerial portfolios, as well as committee chair positions, would be subject to the approval of the party chairman, without any regard for the party list.

Habayit Hayehudi officials deemed Chetboun the party’s “troublemaker” and “bad boy,” after he opposed the position of the party and the coalition on the new draft law, calling it “not Jewish.” Chetboun was punished by being suspended from the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

On the other hand, there are party members who support the new charter. Minister Uri Orbach described it as “fitting for a party that is seeking to grow and lead.”

“Yes, there will be primaries for the chairman position, as well as equal representation for women, importance for party activists and the chairman will have the power to choose two additional candidates for the party list,” Orbach said. “The details are less important. What’s important is that we at Habayit Hayehudi are beginning to think big. An open, democratic party with internal capability to govern, that appeals to more communities, with blocks in place against corruption.”

MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnuah) called on Thursday for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expel Bennett from the security cabinet, after he called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a “mega-terrorist.” In an interview with Israel Radio, Mitzna said the government includes an organization, referring to Habayit Hayehudi, that has the same goals as Hamas.

Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) said in response, “If MK Mitzna is uncomfortable on our side, he’s welcome to take himself and his colleagues into the opposition.”

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