Habayit Hayehudi (The Jewish Home) is a relatively new party, but it is already the site of a number of tumultuous political battles.
Though its committee had already finalized a list of candidates for the position of party chairman, a new name was added Tuesday that caused uproar among various women's organizations.
The new candidate is head of the rabbinical courts, Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, a highly controversial figure in the religious world due to his contentious halachic rulings on the subjects of conversion and atrimony.
Last week the party's council canceled the primary election, instead summoning the public to nominate potential chairmen online. The council then appointed a committee to choose several candidates from among those nominated for the final list.
The candidates chosen by the committee included MKs Zevulun Orlev, Uri Ariel, and Benyamin Elon. Though the list had been considered closed, Ben-Dahan was added on Tuesday. Women's organizations were enraged at the nomination, and dubbed it "bizarre".
Attorney Batya Cahane-Dror of 'Mavoi Satum' told Ynet: It's amazing and disappointing that someone who has so totally adopted Rabbi Elyashiv's strict trend in the rabbinical courts and the conversion policies of the head of the conversion system, Rabbi Druckman, is being adopted by a new national religious party that has promised change."
She added, "During Rabbi Ben-Dahan's service in the rabbinical courts get (divorce)-refusal increased. He is an example of the caving of the liberal religious Zionism in which he grew to forces of ultra-Orthodox halachic extremism.
"In his days the court system deteriorated so much that there is no longer any hope for rectification, only the establishment of an alternative."
Other organizations refrained from offering a public statement until the party's chairman is officially elected, but one unofficial statement called his candidacy "a red sheet before the eyes of all women." Ben-Dahan and the party had no official comment.