Naftali Bennett won Habayit Hayehudi
primaries and was announced party chairman on Tuesday.
MK Zvulon Orlev,
who lost the primaries, congratulated his opponent and announced he would retire from the Knesset.
Habayit Hayehudi primaries kicked off on Tuesday in 168 polling stations across Israel. Some 54,000 registered voters will determine which of the three candidates – MK Zvulon Orlev, Naftali Bennett
and Yehuda Cohen – will lead the party.
Out of the three, Orlev and Bennett are the two likely challengers, who maintain contradicting positions.
Voting in Jerusalem, former party chairman Orlev said he was determined to win, remarking that his experience in politics could help unite "religious Zionism with the National Union
Party and Rabbi Amsalem's
Bennett aims to represent the younger generation. "People want change; they're looking for something different," he said after voting in Raanana. "I'm certain that something new is starting today and who ever thinks that the national religious party and the religious Zionism are over is wrong. I have no doubt that we will win."
Zvulon Orlev (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
The Habayit Hayehudi primaries campaign was a fraught one, as it was confirmed that a private investigator was hired to follow Orlev. The former party chair also claimed that his office was wired, but that claim was refuted after investigation.
Naftali Bennett (Gil Yohanan)
Orlev is likely to retire from the Knesset if he does not win, but Bennett intends to stay in the party regardless of the primaries' results.
Both candidates' campaign staff expressed confidence that their candidate will win.
Registered voters will vote for the rest of list for the Knesset on next Tuesday. The party is expected to get three Knesset seats.
Moran Azulay is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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