Major Regrouping in Nrp

A major regrouping in the leadership of the National Religious Party, Israel’s second largest political faction, emerged today from the results of yesterday’s election of delegates to the NRP convention. The “Unity and Change” faction headed by Dr. Yitzhak Rafael, a former Deputy Minister and chairman of the NRP’s Knesset faction, displaced the Center List headed by Religious Affairs Minister Dr. Zerach Warhaftig as the second strongest group within the NRP.

The Lamifneh faction headed by Interior Minister Yosef Burg and Welfare Minister Michael Hazani retained the top position in the party hierarchy by winning 29 percent of the votes which will give it 212 seats at the convention. Tied for second place were the Rafael faction and the Youth List headed by Knesset members Zevulun Hammer and Yehuda Ben Meir.

Dr. Warhaftig’s list ran a poor third with 12 percent of the votes and 90 seats. Of the three other contesting factions, the Moshavim (small holders) list won 10 percent and 67 seats; the Sephardic list, headed by Knesset members Avner Sciaky and Daniel Levy, was tied for last place with the Religious Kibbutz List. Each won three percent of the votes and are each entitled to 20 seats at the convention.

As a result of the elections, the Warhaftig list which has six seats in the present Knesset will be allotted only two in the next Knesset provided that the NRP retains its present strength in next year’s general elections. The Rafael list which now has one Knesset member will gain two more.

Observers here believe that Rafael and Hammer of the Youth List will both demand Cabinet assignments. Dr. Rafael is expected to make a strong bid for the top leadership of the party, a post left vacant since the death of former Interior Minister Moshe Shapiro in 1970. Dr. Rafael is regarded by some as the most able man in his party.

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