The Bayit Yehudi central committee is scheduled to vote on whether to have a committee select a new leader for the party instead of holding a primary as it did before the last two elections.
Thursday’s vote comes weeks after Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the party’s former numbers one and two, left in order to form the New Right, a mixed religious-secular party, as opposed to Bayit Yehudi, which is the renamed historic National Religious Party.
The proposed plan to find a new party leader is for a 13-member body made up of public figures, elected officials and party institution representatives, at least one third of whom must be women, to select him or her. The committee’s proposed membership will also be up for a vote.
The committee can choose a leader who may not be a current party member, if they find him or her to be the most attractive to voters. One possibility is MK Bezalel Smotrich, who was newly minted as leader of the National Union this week and polls better than any of Bayit Yehudi’s current lawmakers. Bayit Yehudi’s Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan and MK Moti Yogev are also seeking the leadership role.
In addition, the central committee will vote to allow itself to choose the list for the next Knesset, instead of a primary for all Bayit Yehudi’s members.
The proposal also includes affirmative action for women, such that if there is no woman in the first or second place, a woman will be appointed to third on the list. After that, the sixth and ninth place on the list will be for women who ran in the primary, as will the second of every five candidates in the list.
A questions and answers document sent to central committee members this week said “primaries are not currently possible, first of all from an economic standpoint,” because the party is in debt.
“Another problem is the fact that proper primaries need much more time than we have with early elections… In addition, in the new situation that was created, it is unclear how many of the 30,000 party members truly want to contribute to the party’s success and how many support competing lists,” the letter reads.
The vote was originally scheduled for Wednesday, but was postponed to Thursday due to the possibility of snow in the Jerusalem area.