The Jewish Home, also known by “Habayit Hayehudi” in Hebrew is mainly a religious Zionist political party in Israel. The Jewish Home was founded in 2008 (The Israel Democracy Institute), before the elections of the 18th Knesset (a unicameral state legislature of Israel) took place, in order to join forces the National Religious Party, also known as the Mafdal, and the National Union, the so-called HaIchud HaLeumi which is a joint faction that was already operating in the 17th Knesset as a unified right wing party. However, Effi Eitam, a politician of the National Religious Party, who joined the Likud, and Aryeh Eldad, of the National Union are two key figures who refused to participate in the coalition. Instead, they chose to form the Hatikvah party, which represents a minor secular far-right party in Israel. A brief history of the party would start off by the fact that the National Religious Party and the National Union originally allied in order to run a joint list for the 2006 elections (The Israel Democracy Institute). Ever since the Ahi and Hatikva factions of the Union rejected the merger, their leaders were both opposed to the party being a religious one, while Eitam was also unhappy that the new party would not hold primaries. So, the party was initially nameless, five names were proposed then: HaBayit HaYehudi, Shorashism, Atzma’ut, Shalem, and Amihai. In an online vote, members chose the Jewish Home, and it is on 2008 that Rabbi Hershkovitz was chose to head the new party. Following the elections of 2009, the Jewish Home was one of the six parties that made up Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s second government in the 18th Knesset (The Israel Democracy Institute). Later in November 2012, during the lead up to the elections for the 19th Knesset in 2013, Habayit Hayehudi undertook a major transformation, where the party performed paramount elections for its government for the first time. Naftali Bennett, a previous software entrepreneur and an Israeli politician, won the primaries, guided the party in a striking achievement of 12 endorsements in the Knesset elections (The Israel Democracy Institute). Nonetheless, before the January 2013 elections, the new party leader Naftali Bennett re-merged the Jewish Home with National Union, which was reformed by the Modelet party and some members of Tkuma, with the aid of the rightist faction Hatikva. As part of its 2013 coalition agreement, the party has the right now to veto any laws that change the weak status quo on religious issues. The Jewish Home party policy states that Jerusalem “is the eternal capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel solely, and will not be divided” and that the party is against the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank. Moreover, the party’s platform says as well that arrangements in the West Bank are crucial for Israel’s protection, and should not be deported in the future, but should last under Israel’s jurisdiction. The Jewish Home party has some interesting resolutions to draft. To begin with, it mentions that it will be supporting the privatization of government companies and will request as well to diminish manpower in the public sector. Second, the party seeks to encourage tax relief for prolific sectors of the economy. The party finally will be seeking to pass a legislation on supporting tax relief for large families as well.
In terms of the party’s ideological development, it primarily represents modern Orthodox Jews, who tend to be more nationals in Israel. The Jewish Home is willing to cooperate with secular Israelis in governing the state, but has not forgone its objective of creating a polity governed by Jewish law (Trustno1, 2014). This party has been politically shattered and weak for many years. The party’s members attach to the belief that Jews are commanded to retain control over the land of Israel. Therefore, many members have taken the lead in establishing Israeli settlements make it nearly impossible for the party to join a coalition led by the center-left-political bloc.
In the 2013 elections, which was led by Naftali Bennet, appealed to both religious and secular Israelis. The party’s pro-settlement message and Bennett’s personal appeal assisted its rising popularity amid a wider part of the population. The Jewish Home, along with Yesh Atid increased in popularity by reassuring to ease the problem on middle class Israelis who serve in the military, work and pay taxes. Moreover, the Jewish Home stated that it will “fight for the Jewish identity of the state on every level: culture, character, personal status, society and legislation, as a Jewish and democratic state” (Haaretz, 2015). Issues such as civil marriage, will be used to strengthen the current status quo, said the Jewish Home, which will seek alternative solutions for such a sensitive case. Despite Bennett’s union with Yesh Atid’s leader Yair Lapid on many domestic issues, the two differ greatly concerning peace efforts and settlement structure. Bennett is opposed to concessions to the Palestinians, where he has called for Israel to annex Area C of the West Bank and offered citizenship to the Palestinians living there. The primary elections for The Jewish Home Party took place on January 14, 2015. Party leader Naftali Bennett was easily re-elected and agreed to include candidates from the Tkuma political party in their party list, as they did in 2013. Bennett assigned the Tkuma candidates the 2nd, 9th, 14th, and 18th spots on the list.
The party was stained by controversy in the lead-up to the 2015 elections. An article questioning HaBayit HaYehudi’s leader Naftali Bennett’s involvement in the deaths of 102 Lebanese civilians during Operation Grapes of Wrath was released in early January, but this development was soon overshadowed when the next week the party released a campaign video featuring the candidates discussing their negative views on gay marriage and equality. Lastly, members from within Bennett’s own party were furious when he reserved the coveted number ten spot on his party list for Sephardic Israeli soccer star Eli Ohana. Party member Ayelet Shaked defended Bennett’s decision, claiming that he “wanted to bring in a traditional Sephardi person, who had a difficult childhood and succeeded.
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