Nrp May Take Swing to Right in Advance of June Elections

The National Religious Party, long a bastion of religious Zionism, seems to be veering to the right as the elections approach.

Considerable pressure has been put on its incumbent leaders, Avner Shaki and Zevulun Hammer, to rule out an NRP coalition with the Labor Party after a new Knesset is elected on June 23.

So far, they have refused to issue a categorical declaration to that effect.

But hard-liners are trying to revamp the party’s traditionally moderate platform.

NRP Knesset member Hanan Porat and former Knesset member Haim Druckman want the party to declare officially that it no longer supports the 1978 Camp David accords or autonomy for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Instead, they want it to demand the immediate annexation of those territories.

The NRP, which has belonged to virtually every coalition government since the state was founded, whether headed by Labor or Likud, has lost ground in recent years.

It will be fighting in June to hold onto its nationalist-religious constituency against inroads made by Likud and the far-right Tehiya and Moledet parties, which, though secular, attract many Orthodox voters.

Moledet, which advocates “transfer” of all Arabs from the “Land of Israel,” has placed a very popular religious nationalist high on its election list.

He is Rabbi Yosef Ba-Gad, founder and director of the Nahalim yeshiva high school near Petach Tikvah, who will be No. 3 on the Moledet ticket after party leader Rehavam Ze’evi and Professor Shaul Gutman, an astronomer from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa.

MOLEDET WILL AGAIN EMPHASIZE ‘TRANSFER’

Fourth on the list is Dr. Sarah Pollack, a medical doctor from Gush Etzion.

The slate was put together at a closed-door session of the party’s 46-member executive Sunday night. Moledet has only two seats in the outgoing Knesset but expects to do better in the next one.

Although Moledet’s 1992 election platform has not yet been published, Ze’evi confirmed that its central plank would again be “transfer,” which he says is “the only way for Jews to have peace in Eretz Yisrael.”

Ze’evi meanwhile has dumped his No. 2 man, Yair Sprinzak, concluding that at age 76 he should retire. The two men reportedly have not spoken to each other for weeks.

At the other end of the political spectrum, the left-wing Meretz bloc has accused the Orthodox-controlled Interior Ministry of trying to deny the vote to tens of thousands of recent immigrants.

Meretz Knesset members Shulamit Aloni and Mordechai Virshubski urged special legislation to enable persons without fixed addresses to cast ballots at absorption centers, much like soldiers on active duty vote at military bases.

The Interior Ministry has failed to make the necessary arrangements.

“It is hard to avoid the feeling that there is a deliberate intent in the Interior Ministry to prevent the olim from voting because they do not adhere to religious or right-wing parties,” Virshubski charged in a letter to National Election Committee Chairman Avraham Halima.

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