Jewish Home to call new primaries in coming months
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Jewish Home to call new primaries in coming months

Now open to nonreligious candidates, Orthodox-nationalist coalition party likely to vote on leadership in December or January

Lazar Berman is a former breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Head of the Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, smiles during a party conference on September 10, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)
Head of the Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, smiles during a party conference on September 10, 2014. (photo credit: Flash90)

The Jewish Home party will hold primaries in the near future — likely the end of December or beginning of January — for the leadership of the party.

The Israel National News site reported that next Wednesday, the Orthodox-nationalist party’s central committee will choose seven members to serve as its elections committee. The primaries for the party’s list for the next Knesset elections will be held a few months after the party leadership primaries.

In September, Jewish Home approved significant changes in its constitution that will give leader Naftali Bennett greater control over who gets to become a Knesset member, and will open up the party’s ranks to nonreligious candidates.

A solid majority voted in favor of the new rules in an open vote at a party conference.

The party made significant gains under Bennett in elections last year, and current polls show it getting double-digit seats were elections held today.

Last month, the ruling Likud party also paved the way to the holding of primaries, raising speculation that new elections could be offing in the not-too-distant future.

Under the updated Jewish Home constitution, Bennett, who serves as the economy minister, has the right to choose one out of every five candidates on the party list, as well as pick who gets to be a minister. One spot out of every five on the list is also guaranteed for a female candidate.

In what was one of the most controversial changes, the historically national-religious party will now also accept nonreligious members, a move opposed by MKs Yoni Chetboun and Moti Yogev. Those against the change fear that it would water down the party’s religious ethos, though the party’s current No. 5, MK Ayelet Shaked, is not religious.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report. 

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