The Jewish Home
|Preceded by||National Religious Party|
|Political position||Right-wing to far-right|
|National affiliation||United Right|
3 / 120
|Most MKs||12 (2013)|
The Jewish Home (Hebrew: הַבַּיִת הַיְהוּדִי, HaBayit HaYehudi) is an Orthodox Jewish and religious Zionist political party in Israel. It was originally formed by a merger of the National Religious Party, Moledet, and Tkuma in November 2008. However, Moledet broke away from the party after its top representative was placed only 17th on the new party's list for the 2009 Knesset elections, and instead ran on a joint list with Hatikva. Tkuma later also left to join the National Union.
For the 2013 elections, the Jewish Home and Tkuma parties ran a joint list under the leadership of the chairman of the Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett. The party ran with Tkuma again in the 2015 elections. In 2019, Jewish Home ran on a joint list with Tkuma and Otzma Yehudit. The parties registered under the name United Right.
On 3 November 2008, it was announced that the NRP and the Moledet and Tkuma factions of the Union would merge to form a new party. However, the Ahi and Hatikva factions of the Union rejected the merger — their leaders, Effi Eitam and Aryeh Eldad, respectively, were both opposed to the party being a purely religious one, while Eitam was also unhappy that the new party would not hold primaries.
The party was initially nameless. Five names were proposed: HaBayit HaYehudi ("Jewish Home"), Shorashim ("Roots"), Atzma'ut ("Independence"), Shalem ("Whole"), and Amihai ("My Nation Lives"). In an on-line ballot, the members chose "Jewish Home".
Ya'akov Amidror was chosen to head a public committee formed to choose the party's list for the 2009 elections. On 8 December 2008, Rabbi Professor Daniel Hershkovitz, a mathematician from the Technion, was chosen to head the new party.
When Jewish Home announced its candidate list for the upcoming elections, five of the top six slots went to ex-NRP members. MK Uri Ariel of Tkuma was the sole exception: He received the third slot. Polls then indicated Jewish Home would get five to seven seats, thus making the first six spaces highly contested. The ex-National Union members again complained. Ex-Moledet MK Benny Elon stated that he would not seek re-election, and was replaced on the candidate list by American immigrant Uri Bank. The remaining Moledet members broke away, and allied with Hatikva in a revived Union (Bank also later switched to the Union.)
On 25 December, Tkuma MK Ariel left Jewish Home, and joined the Union. This left Jewish Home as little more than a renamed NRP: The Jewish Home, the new National Religious Party. In the 2009 election, the party won three seats.
In November 2012, the Jewish Home held separate primaries for leadership of the party. My Israel leader Naftali Bennett won over incumbent MK Zevulun Orlev, winning more than two thirds of the vote, and Orlev announced he was resigning from politics. A week later, primaries for the remaining members of the list were held, and Nissan Slomiansky, Ayelet Shaked, and Uri Orbach reached the top spots. With the National Union breaking up, Uri Ariel officially re-united Tkuma with the Jewish Home to run on a joint list in the 2013 Israeli elections. A few Moledet candidates were included. In the elections that were held on 22 January 2013, the Jewish Home won 12 seats. The Jewish Home entered the thirty-third government of Israel under prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and has 3 ministers (Bennett, Ariel, and Orbach) and 2 deputy-ministers (Ben-Dahan and Wortzman).
As part of its 2013 coalition agreement, the Jewish Home had the right to veto any laws that change the fragile status quo on religious issues. In December 2013, the party vetoed a Yesh Atid-proposed bill that sought to give gay fathers equal tax benefits, saying it would have far-reaching implications on marriage laws. Currently, mothers receive more benefits than do fathers under the law, and thus, couples composed of two men are ineligible for certain tax breaks.
In December 2016, the party's member Shuli Mualem proposed the so-called Regulation Bill. The law seeks to legalize dozens of small outposts of settlements built in the occupied Palestinian territories on private ground of individual Palestinians.
The Regulation Law passed legislation on 6 February 2017. The law exclusively refers to Palestinians, and allows the government to expropriate land from individual Palestinians against their will for a compensation up to 25% above the land's value.
On 16 November 2018, the Jewish Home issued a statement claiming that the party intended to withdraw from Netanyahu's coalition government, and demanded an early election "as soon as possible". This threat came after Netanyahu denied party leader Naftali Bennett's request to become the Defense Minister. On 18 November, Netanyahu reneged on an earlier pledge to remove Jewish Home member Eli Ben-Dahan as Deputy Defense Minister. Bennett afterwards reneged on this pledge to withdraw on 19 November 2018, and agreed to abandon his push to become Defense Minister and keep the party in the coalition.
The party primarily represents Modern Orthodox as well as Chardal Jews. For many years, this community has been politically fractured. In the 2013 elections, the party was led by Naftali Bennett, a charismatic high-tech millionaire, who appealed to both religious and secular Israelis. The party's pro-settlement message and Bennett's personal appeal helped it increase popularity among a broader segment of the population. The attention that Bennett received also apparently had an effect on Likud's 2013 election strategy, pushing it to the right. Along with Yesh Atid, the Jewish Home surged in popularity by promising to end the controversial system of draft exemptions given to many ultra-Orthodox seminary students, and to "ease the burden" on middle-class Israelis who serve in the military, work, and pay taxes. These two parties became the two largest coalition parties in Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, and leaders of both parties were able to force Netanyahu to promise that the ultra-Orthodox political parties will not be in the new coalition. Despite Bennett's alliance with Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid on many domestic issues, the two differ sharply over peace efforts and settlement building. Bennett is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, and has called for Israel to annex Area C of the West Bank and offer citizenship to the Palestinians living there. Their alliance ended during their time as coalition partners, before the 2015 Israeli legislative election.
Most of the party's candidates for the 2015 elections were opposed to same-sex marriage. Some of the remarks made by its candidates have been called homophobic by Yair Lapid; Zehava Gal-On and Mickey Rosenthal also criticized the comments. Despite this, in a 2016 poll, 57% of Jewish Home voters said they back same-sex marriage.
In response to the party's merger with Otzma Yehudit, Rabbi Benny Lau, a modern Orthodox rabbi from Jerusalem, said: "A vote for Bayit Yehudi is a vote for the racism of [Meir] Kahane." The rabbi equated Kahanism with Nazism.
|Leader||Took office||Left office|
Knesset election results
|Election year||Party Leader||# of overall votes||% of overall vote||# of overall seats
|2009||Daniel Hershkowitz||96,765||2.87 (#11)||
3 / 120
|2013||Naftali Bennett||345,985||9.12 (#4)||
12 / 120
|9||Joint list with Tkuma||Coalition|
|2015||Naftali Bennett||283,910||6.74 (#6)||
8 / 120
|4||Joint list with Tkuma||Coalition|
Knesset members list
|17||2006–2009||5||Uri Ariel, Eliyahu Gabai, Zvi Hendel, Zevulun Orlev, Nissan Slomiansky|
|18||2009–2013||3||Daniel Hershkowitz, Uri Orbach, Zevulun Orlev|
|19||2013–2015||12||Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel, Nissan Slomiansky, Eli Ben-Dahan, Ayelet Shaked, Uri Orbach(died in office), Zvulun Kalfa, Avi Wortzman, Moti Yogev, Orit Strook, Yoni Chetboun, Shuli Mualem, Hillel Horowitz(from 02/16/2015)|
|20||2015–||8||Naftali Bennett, Uri Ariel, Ayelet Shaked, Eli Ben-Dahan, Nissan Slomiansky, Yinon Magal(resigned in 2015), Moti Yogev, Bezalel Smotrich, Shuli Mualem(from October 2015)|
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- The law in Hebrew as passed by the Israeli Knesset at the official website of the Knesset. http://fs.knesset.gov.il//20/law/20_ls2_pb_367832.pdf
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- Bennett, Shaked quit Jewish Home, announce formation of ‘HaYamin HeHadash’ The Times of Israel, 29 December 2018
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