Former Yesha Council director-general and Benjamin Netanyahu's previous right-hand man at the Likud, Naftali Bennett announced Sunday the establishment of a new political party.
The announcement comes a day before the Knesset is set to be dissolved signaling early national elections. The party's founding members include former Chief Military Rabbi Avichai Rontzki and My Israel head Ayelet Shaked, who previously served as Netanyahu's bureau chief. "This is a blow to Netanyahu," one of Bennett's associates told Ynet.
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Bennett has been holding intense consultations in the past few days considering whether to run for National Religious Party chairmanship or to form a separate political party. He described the new party as "a young national-Zionist movement uniting both secular and religious Israelis." Bennett said that the party's aim is to bring Zionism back into the national agenda again.
"We shall create a real bridge between the religious and the seculars, who will be joined together by love of the land and Zionism, and a return to our basic values," Bennett said.
"The majority of the Israeli public belongs to the Zionist national camp, and still we are not being taken seriously at the moment of truth. The prime minister is part of this, having appointed a defense minister who is hostile to the settlement enterprise and blocked a bill meant to protect IDF soldiers from foreign organizations."
The former Yesha Council director said that he aims to unite under one umbrella all of the national camp's parties "and create a mighty force that will serve as a counterbalance in the next administration." Bennett's associates claimed that various Likud elements tried to stop his initiative.
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