Jewish Home’s far right-religious flank backs Bennett-Lapid pact

Ultra-Orthodox nationalist rabbis say party leader’s coalition stance supports Torah and settlements

Ilan Ben Zion is an AFP reporter and a former news editor at The Times of Israel.

Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of  Kiryat Arba (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)
Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba (photo credit: Uri Lenz/Flash90)

A hard right and religious faction of the nationalist Jewish Home party came out in support of party head Naftali Bennett Sunday, backing the leader’s alliance with the anti-Haredi Yesh Atid party and calling it a move to protect settlements and Torah observance.

The Tekuma faction — headed by ultra-Orthodox rabbis who also belong to the political far right — penned an open letter in which they dismissed the “media hysteria” accusing Bennett of undermining religious Judaism.

Rabbis Dov Lior, Haim Steiner, and David Hai Hacohen voiced support for the party leader’s actions “for the sake of protecting the Torah world and settlement in the Land of Israel.”

Bennett has teamed up with Yesh Atid, which has said it will not enter a coalition with the ultra-Orthodox Shas or United Torah Judaism.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told Shas leaders that political complications were keeping him from letting them into the coalition, a reference to the Jewish Home-Yesh Atid alliance.

During the run-up to the January elections, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party’s spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef berated the Jewish Home party as “not a home for Jews.”

“It is a home of goyim [gentiles],” Yosef said. “They want to uproot the Torah, to institute civil marriage. It’s forbidden to vote for them. These are religious people? Anyone who votes for them denies the Torah.”

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