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2022 elections

Yamina MK Nir Orbach quits politics, urges Israeli right to ‘wake up’

Orbach, who left Bennett’s coalition in June prompting November’s election, says he will ‘personally’ take action to ensure that the next government is right-wing

Yamina MK Nir Orbach leads a House Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 21, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)
Yamina MK Nir Orbach leads a House Committee meeting at the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 21, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/ Flash90)

Yamina MK Nir Orbach said Thursday he was taking a break from politics and would not seek to join a new party ahead of the November 1 elections.

Orbach said he would “personally” do everything in his power from outside the political system to ensure that Israel’s next government is right-wing, but refused to endorse any specific party.

“Religious Zionists will decide whether a right-wing government is established after the elections or if we head to another round of elections,” he said on Twitter, calling on Israel’s right-wing politicians to “wake up” before it’s too late.

Orbach quit the coalition led by his own party leader, Naftali Bennett, in June, leaving it with a minority in the Knesset. Following the lead of fellow Yamina MK Idit Silman, who quit in April, his departure was central to the government’s collapse and Bennett’s resignation as prime minister. Bennett was replaced by Yair Lapid, who now heads the government in caretaker status ahead of the November 1 elections.

Orbach said at the time that the coalition was being pulled “in problematic directions” after Arab MKs Mazen Ghanaim (Ra’am) and Ghaida Rinawie Zoabi (Meretz) refused to back the renewal of long-standing measures extending Israeli legal provisions to settlers living in the West Bank.

In an interview with Ynet on Wednesday, Orbach indicated his intention to quit politics, explaining that many people who had voted for Yamina last year feel betrayed by its actions since then, in forming a government with Lapid and then enabling him to become prime minister.

Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks at the Israel Bar Association conference in Tel Aviv, September 5, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

“Even if I believe that our intentions were good, at the end of the day many of our constituents feel betrayed, and in some ways, I’m currently paying the price for some of the mistakes we’ve made this past year. I accept this with all of my heart,” he said.

Addressing Ayelet Shaked, his former colleague from Yamina who is now attempting to run for office as head of Jewish Home — currently polling below the electoral threshold — Orbach said he believed “she has come to her senses,” adding, “I hope it’s not too late. We all need to examine ourselves. I am doing so, and I’m sure Ayelet will do the same.”

A poll published Wednesday evening by Channel 13 indicated that Israel’s two rival political blocs — spearheaded by Lapid and Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu — remain deadlocked, as neither would get a majority of 61 seats in the 120-member Knesset.

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