Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

21 Adar I 5765 - March 2, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











NRP Split Official: Eitam and Levy Set Up Independent Party

By Eliezer Rauchberger

The split in the National Religious Party became official with Effi Eitam and Yitzchak Levy's announcement that they were resigning from the NRP to form an independent party called Religious Zionism.

The resignation of the two MKs, each of whom has headed the NRP in the past, is a sign of the major crisis the party is going through as a result of the disengagement plan.

Their resignation was considered merely a matter of time. Eitam served as Housing Minister under Sharon and Levy served as deputy minister of the now dismantled Ministry of Religious Affairs. Following the government's decision to advance the disengagement plan, the two figures resigned from the government and from the coalition while fellow party member Zevulun Orlev, then Welfare Minister, remained in the government and the coalition together with the other members of the NRP.

The move effectively divided the party into two. Levy and Eitam consistently supported no-confidence motions while the other four party members continued to back Sharon's government. But eventually they too resigned due to Sharon's insistence not to hold a referendum on the disengagement plan.

According to reports, one month ago Eitam and Levy reached an agreement with HaIchud HaLeumi over a parliamentary alliance with the NRP, but the majority of NRP members rejected that agreement.

Two weeks ago the NRP court decided to suspend Eitam from his post as NRP chairman, a step that eventually led to Eitam and Levy's recent decision.

According to the Knesset law, one-third of a party (with a minimum of two MKs) can split from their party and form an independent party. Since the NRP numbered six MKs, Eitam and Levy were able to take advantage of this law which will make them eligible to receive funding and all of the other benefits given to Knesset parties. Meanwhile the NRP will lose funding.

At a press conference held by Eitam and Levy, Eitam said their party will unite the right-wing parties NRP, Tekuma and Moledet into one large camp which they will lead in the next elections. "The Jewish people are being endangered by the Prime Minister, who goes out against his brethren, expelling women and children from their homes and unearthing graves," he added.

MK Yitzchak Levy said it was a hard day for him after 18 years of being a part of the NRP leadership, but claimed this step is imperative for the sake of the national-religious public. "The NRP closed itself off to the point where we no longer found it possible to effect change from within," he explained. "The boat must be rocked from the outside. We left the NRP so that it will call us to return."

NRP chairman of the Knesset faction, Zevulun Orlev, expressed regret over their resignation from the party despite the efforts he says he made to preserve unity within the camp and the repeated compromise proposals that went unanswered. "I find it unfortunate that at this critical time, which requires full unity in the battle against the disengagement, Eitam and Levy are engaged in schisms and resignations not based on any ideological reason and are directing their struggle toward [the NRP]." Orlev also expressed confidence that the NRP would overcome the resignation, just at it did in the past with the resignation of MKs such as Porat and Handel.

HaIchud HaLeumi Chairman MK Benny Eilon said, "The betrayal of Sharon and the other worthless figures in the Likud government demands that all of religious Zionism and all of those loyal to Eretz Yisrael gather under the single roof of HaIchud HaLeumi. The power of unity is tremendous. In the upcoming elections HaIchud HaLeumi and all of the NRP factions must run together."


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