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Arye Eldad to head new secular Right party

Gil Hoffman , THE JERUSALEM POST Nov. 20, 2007
www.jpost.com
/servlet/Satellite?cid=1195546683035&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

National Union MK Arye Eldad will head a new secular right-wing party in the
next election that will try to win support away from the Likud and Israel
Beiteinu, Eldad announced Tuesday.

The party will be called Hatikva, which means “the hope” in Hebrew and is
the name of Israel’s national anthem.

Eldad, who has run as part of the National Union’s Moledet party in the last
two elections, said he had decided to form a new party, because with nine
religious candidates in its top 10, the National Union did not receive
enough secular votes. Eldad said he had first tried to convince all the
parties that make
up the National Union to unite and hold a membership drive and open
primaries, but he did not succeed.

“In the last election, non-religious voters went to the Likud, Israel
Beiteinu or stayed home because they had no one to vote for,” Eldad said.
“The Likud has proven that it can take right-wing votes and implement the
policies of Peace Now. Israel Beiteinu used to sound like a right-wing
party, but now they favor dividing Jerusalem. I needed a party that would
really be right-wing.”

Polls conducted for Hatikva found that 23 percent of Israelis who identify
themselves as centrist or right-wing would consider voting for such a party.

Besides Eldad, the party has attracted the support of well-known figures
such as attorney Haim Misgav and Dr. Ron Breiman, the former head of
Professors for a Strong Israel. The 100 founders of the party elected as its
temporary chairman Yehoar Gal, a reserve IAF colonel who has run for Knesset
with the Likud and the National Union. He is close to former chief of
General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz.

Hatikva is conducting a membership drive via its Web site, Hatikva.org.il,
and will select its Knesset list in a primary among its members. Eldad said
he would remain part of the National Union until the next election.

Asked why he did not join one of the existing parties to the Right of the
National Union, Eldad said Baruch Marzel’s Jewish National Front Party was
seen by the public as identifying with the views of slain Kach leader Meir
Kahane, and former MK Michael Kleiner’s Herut Party could not attract enough
support.

Eldad said he hoped Hatikva would build itself into enough of a force to
merit becoming a strong part of the nationalist camp. He said the party
could run as part of the National Union in the next election.

Knesset Law Committee chairman Menahem Ben-Sasson is trying to pass an
electoral reform that would automatically make the leader of the largest
party prime minister, instead of the current system, in which the president
decides who should form the government. Eldad said that if Ben-Sasson passed
the reform, the Likud and all the parties to the Right of it would have to
run together in order to ensure Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu’s victory.

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