I Hope for an Israel Abiding by Jewish Religious Law, Says Member of New Right-wing Party

Shuli Moalem-Refaeli's Hayamin Hehadash party bills itself as a joint religious-secular slate ■ Naftali Bennnet, said the party opposes religious coercion and is proud of a diversity of opinions

Knesset member Shuli Moalem-Refaeli
Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli lawmaker Shuli Moalem-Refaeli, who recently broke from the largely religious Habayit Hayehudi party to join the new right-wing Hayamin Hehadash party ahead of Israel's upcoming elections, told a conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday that she hopes that Jewish religious law, halakha, will have increasing influence in Israel.

"As people whose lives are based on a commitment to Torah, I think it's the essence of the battle over Jewish law, over injecting the Torah into every element of our lives," she told a Jewish law conference in Jerusalem on Wednesday. "And the entire State of Israel, God willing, will be heading more and more towards this place of commitment to Torah and halakha." The remarks were first reported by Army Radio on Thursday.

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Moalem-Refaeli broke ranks with Habayit Hayehudi two weeks ago to join Hayamin Hehadash, which was founded by the then-leader of Habayit Hayehudi, Education Minister Naftali Bennnett, and his party colleague, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked. The new party, which will be running in the April 9 Knesset election, has the declared goal of forging a partnership between religious and secular Israelis. Habayit Hayehudi, by contrast, is seen as a largely religious party.

Responding on Twitter to Moalem-Refaeli's remarks, Bennett said there was room in his their new party for a range of views and that Hayamin Hehadash's platform would obligate all of its members to a platform including opposition to religious coercion.

"For anyone who doesn't understand, Hayamin Hehadash is a right-wing party of secular and religious with various views, and that's our beauty and uniqueness. We are proud of our various views, like in a family. But it is only the party's platform that will be binding on everyone. The party platform will require that we be in favor of rootedness and Jewish tradition but opposed to religious coercion and will be continue to work for unity within the people."