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New Party Formed in Israel

A new rightwing religious Zionist political party was officially formed in Tel Aviv last night by Rabbi Haim Druckman, a National Religious Party Knesset member who is expected to quit the NRP and declare himself an independent faction.

The new party which calls itself “Matzad” (Mahane Zioni Dati–Religious Zionist Camp) is far to the right of the NRP and will probably call for the immediate annexation of the West Bank in repudiation of the Camp David accords.

Druckman is said to be trying to recruit Hanan Porat away from the ultra-nationalist Tehiya party which is part of the Likud-led coalition. Porat is also a religious Jew. Druckman maintained last night that the Religious Zionist Camp speaks for tens of thousands of persons who are not given full expression in the NRP. He indicated that his constituency was among Orthodox youths who did their military service at yeshivas on the West Bank and alumni of Bnei Akiva, the Orthodox youth movement.

Interior Minister Yosef Burg, a veteran NRP leader, dismissed Druckman’s claims as “bombast” and said he represented only a marginal element within the NRP and the national religious community. Burg said the NRP demonstrated its influence this week when the two candidates it backed for Ashkenazic and Sephardic Chief Rabbis handily won election.

But sources close to Druckman claimed that the newly elected Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi, Avraham Shapiro, was in fact a Matzad sympathizer and had refused to speak out against the new movement although he was pressured by the NRP to do so.

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