Outcry After Jewish Home Candidate Promotes Land Withdrawals

December 30, 2014  

Jewish Home issued an urgent and unusual announcement on Tuesday distancing itself from statements made by a candidate for the party’s primaries, in which the candidate supported the concept of giving up parts of Israel to the Palestinian Arabs.

“A Palestinian state – that’s not in our school (of thought),” read the announcement. “Jewish Home firmly opposes withdrawing from parts of our land, and the public will choose candidates loyal to the ideology of the party.”

Some have accused the party of watering down its religious Zionist ideology as it actively courts the secular and Druze vote, with primaries contenders including a former Peace Now activist and adviser for Labor, as well as an Arab Muslim female candidate. Statements by candidate Attorney Batya Kahane-Dror apparently forced the party to clarify its ideological line.

In a Galei Tzahal (IDF Radio) interview, Kahane-Dror said that she would be open to giving up land in the framework of a peace agreement.

“I’m very pragmatic in my political views, and in certain circumstances we will need to discuss returning territories,” said Kahane-Dror. “Maybe we can talk about land swaps, my world view is not Messianic, and we will need to deal with that.”

Given the religious Zionist background of the party, Kahane-Dror was asked whether her position might not distance voters, to which she stated that party chair Naftali Bennett has similar positions. “The majority of the religious Zionist public is pragmatic and also liberal,” she claimed.

Bennett’s national plan, which he publicly announced in the last elections and reiterated in several English op-eds in American papers since, proposes giving the Palestinian Authority (PA) full autonomy in the massive array of blocs that make up Areas A and B in Judea and Samaria, while annexing Area C and giving Arab residents the option for Israeli citizenship.

The plan also would have Israel remove all security checkpoints and roadblocks so that Arab residents would have full freedom of movement in the region, and give large economic stimulus grants to the PA as well. Prime among the critics of the plan is security expert Dr. Martin Sherman, director of the Israel Institute of Strategic Studies.

Kahane-Dror’s comments sparked Jewish Home primaries candidate Yehudit Shilat to level criticism earlier on Tuesday, saying “Jewish Home is a religious Zionist party dedicated to preserving the wholeness of the land.”

“It seems to me that the values that the party is based on don’t go together with the opinions of Kahane-Dror, and therefore she has to clarify for voters what her opinions and values are,” said Shilat.

Shalit concluded “it seems that the entirety of the opinions that Kahane-Dror stated could be appropriate for a party like Meretz which will receive her with open arms.”

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