Jewish Home faction Tekumah selects Knesset candidates
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Elections 2015

Jewish Home faction Tekumah selects Knesset candidates

Representatives for subgroup in right-wing party include Bezalel Smotrich, who was once arrested by Shin Bet

Tekuma party members left to right, MK Orit Strock, Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel and MK Zvulun Kalfa, January 11, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Tekuma party members left to right, MK Orit Strock, Bezalel Smotrich, Minister of Housing and Construction Uri Ariel and MK Zvulun Kalfa, January 11, 2015. (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Housing Minister Uri Ariel’s far-right Tekumah faction on Sunday selected its Knesset candidates, who are to be incorporated into a joint list with Naftali Bennet’s Jewish Home party in the upcoming elections.

Newcomer Bezalel Smotrich came in second, after Ariel, who ran unchallenged as faction head, followed by MK Orit Strock and MK Zevulun Kalfa.

Sunday’s outcome gives Ariel a slot just behind Bennett on the combined Jewish Home ballot, while Smotrich will place ninth, Strock will be in the 15th spot and Kalfa will be 18th.

Recent polls have indicated Jewish Home will garner around 16 seats when Israel heads to the polls on March 17, which will give Ariel, Smotrich and Strock realistic chances of making it to the Knesset.

Smotrich is director of Regavim, an NGO that monitors the use of state land in Israel and the West Bank.

In the lead-up to the 2005 Gaza disengagement, Smotrich was arrested and held by the Shin Bet security service for three weeks on suspicion that he was planning to block major traffic arteries and damage infrastructure to prevent the withdrawal. He was part of a cell of five people who were caught allegedly planning an attack with 700 liters of gasoline, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. He was released without any charges being brought.

More than 8,000 Jewish settlers were evicted from Gaza and the northern West Bank in 2005 as part of then-prime minister Ariel Sharon’s controversial plan to unilaterally remove all Jewish residents and IDF soldiers from the Strip.

The disengagement was widely panned by the national religious sector and members of Israel’s right-wing parties, who opposed the initiative on security and religious grounds.

Strock, who was first elected to the Knesset in the previous elections, was denounced by MKs across the political spectrum for comments she made in January 2014 in the wake of Sharon’s death, where she praised God for taking the former general and defense minister from office in 2006.

The Tekumah faction joined forces with the Jewish Home in advance of the 2013 elections and holds four of Jewish Home’s 12 seats in the outgoing Knesset.

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