JERUSALEM (Mar. 24)
The moderate wing of the National religious Party won a narrow but significant victory late Wednesday night, when the party’s central committee endorsed the Knesset candidacy of Religious Affairs Minister Zevulun Hammer, with 60.3 percent of the vote.
party rules require that any member who has served two consecutive terms in the Knesset must be endorsed by 60 percent of the Central Committee before he can stand for re-election. Out of more than 900 votes cast, Hammer squeaked through by a margin of only two.
He was savagely opposed by the party’s right wing, the hard-line Matzad faction led by Gush Emunim, the militant West Bank settlement movement, and Yosef Shapira, a minister without portfolio. They had mounted an intense campaign to paint Hammer as soft on the settlements and a supporter of Palestinian autonomy.