While many MKs are worried about being placed high enough on their party’s list to gain a seat in the upcoming Knesset elections, the chairman of the far-right National Union faction has requested that he be placed in an unrealistic spot on his party’s list.
While MK Yaacov “Ketzaleh” Katz’s unusual move, if approved by the party, may catapult him out of the next Knesset, his associates hailed him as a “true leader.”
During a meeting of the National Union’s central committee Tuesday evening, Katz, 61, said he wanted to be placed seventh on his faction’s list for the 19th Knesset. Since the National Union decided to run together with the national-religious Jewish Home party, Katz would be either number 13 or 14 on a joint list.
In the 18th Knesset, the National Union and Jewish Home won a total of seven mandates.
Explaining his decision, which to outside observers may seem like political suicide, Katz said he believed the unity deal with Jewish Home would bring more votes to the nationalist camp, guaranteeing his place in the Knesset.
“This unity will truly show our strength; we will be strong and leaders in politics as well as in the army, in education, in yeshivas and settlements. This unity will bring all from the Likud and Shas [parties], those who wandered to other fields — which of course could not fulfill their desires,” Katz wrote on his Facebook profile. “Therefore, I am utterly convinced that our party will number between 15 and 20 mandates.”
Katz’s request was approved by the National Union’s central committee, but the final decision about his place on the list now lies in the hands of the party’s spiritual leaders, rabbis Zalman Melamed, Dov Lior and Chaim Steiner. They usually follow the proposals of the central committee, which will submit its recommended Knesset list in a few weeks, after the Jewish Home primaries.
“With this decision, Ketzaleh is saying that if we cannot bring 13 seats to the party, then I don’t deserve to be in the Knesset,” Jeremy Saltan, Katz’s parliamentary aide, told The Times of Israel. “He’s putting himself on the 13th spot to prove to everyone that he really believes the party can get 13 seats. To me, that’s true leadership. Show me one MK who’s willing to fall on the sword like that, to put everything on the line.”
Most polls predict between eight and nine seats for a joint National Union/Jewish Home list. But Katz was focusing on one poll published last Thursday on Channel 2, which gave the list 13 seats, Saltan said. “He’s ignoring all other polls. In an age of large parties and joint lists, a single-digit party is just not worth it.”