Jewish Home Passes New Constitution

September 10, 2014  

The Jewish Home Party voted on a new constitution at Tel Aviv University Wednesday, amidst a controversy over political control that may see a split over what some claim are different values. 

Tensions over the vote ran high, as a clash broke out between MK Moti Yogev and a security guard after Yogev requested that the secret ballots be counted to protect against vote tampering. 

The constitution eventually passed, however, after a compromise was struck between Chairman Naftali Bennett and the proposal’s opponents. 

Bennett wants the Jewish Home’s list to include secular candidates and people who will appeal to the Russian-speaking and Druze sectors, among others.

The new constitution will allow Bennett to fill every fifth spot on the party’s Knesset list with an external candidate based on his own discretion. It will give him the power to cancel for candidates of his choosing the 2.5 year membership qualification period to be on the party list, and let him select all placements for Knesset executive positions and ministerial posts. The party’s central committee will be limited to approving the choices and not making them, as it currently does.

However, under the new compromise conditions set after a heated confrontation between opponents and supporters of the new deal, the constitution will be made open to amendments in another 3-5 months, and be will slated for review under the supervision of Rabbi Yitzhak Levy. 

The opponents – except for MKs Moti Yogev and Yoni Chetboun – had also agreed to drop the demand for secret ballots regarding the vote. 

Widening scope

Both critics and opponents of the move note that the change would see the party open itself to candidates, and representation, outside the Religious-Zionist sector and reach more of the general Israeli population – a change not unwanted by most of the party’s Knesset MKs.

A recent survey revealed that, if elections were to be held today, Jewish Home would take a record 19 seats in the Knesset, becoming the second-most powerful party in the coalition; were the party to widen its audience, that power would only increase. 

Opponents of the new constitution, however, argue that the proposal gives Bennett himself too much power over party politics – and that the change could see a compromise in the party’s “100% Religious-Zionist” values. 

Housing Minister Uri Ariel has warned that the issue, if remained unresolved, could cause a potential split, torpedoing the Religious-Zionist vote for future Knesset coalitions in the event the vote becomes fragmented.

Despite this, Bennett has vowed to keep the party united – no matter the vote’s results – and proponents of the initiative note that the party’s religious Zionist ideology is enshrined in the constitution anyway.


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