The corruption investigation into Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and the drama surrounding Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri could see many voters move their allegiances to Jewish Home, Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman (Jewish Home) stated Tuesday.
Wortzman, in a special interview with Arutz Sheva, stated that his party has already begun to benefit from an exodus from Yisrael Beytenu – not due to the political storm, but due to Liberman’s move leftward.
“The transition of voters [to Jewish Home] has started before this, when Liberman began saying things in political situations that gave a nod and a wink to the Center, such as seeing Route 6 as the border of a Palestinian state – things the nationalist camp would never agree to,” Wortzman stated. “Most Yisrael Beytenu voters would not subscribe to this and as a result may move to vote for us instead.”
Wortzman rejected claims that Liberman has always rallied behind the idea of a Palestinian state behind 1949 Armistice lines, saying that while Liberman has had his “triangle swap” plan in place for several years, recent statements are even more left-leaning.
He added that, in his view, Yisrael Beytenu’s decline can also be linked to the retirement of Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, who is more representative of the party’s nationalistic allegiances of the past – and that the corruption scandal “casts a shadow on the state of the party” as a whole.
Wortzman also said that drama within Shas has metastasized into a disaster for the hareidi party, one which sees Shas chairman Aryeh Deri convicted of fraud in the eyes of Shas voters – and that, in his view, the allegations will not encourage a sudden surge of support for the traditional Sephardic political party.
“I do not think this is the reality,” he said. “There is also a combination of this [scandal] and the lack of its national standing, and the fact that it is turning toward the Left.”
As such, he said, voters may turn to Jewish Home from Shas, as well – but not to breakaway party Ha’am Itanu, headed by Eli Yishai. Yishai is not a popular option either, he said, because voters are tired of the drama and want to cast their vote to something that they have confidence will be able to enact real change in the Knesset – not get bogged down in petty politicizing.
All in all, Wortzman said, both parties’ losses could result in as many as twenty seats for Jewish Home, which currently is projected to receive 16-18 seats.
“There is a huge influx of public support for Jewish Home,” he said.
Wortzman concluded by addressing some controversy regarding the JewishHome candidacy of Walla! News editor Yinon Magal, as some have objected to an interview in which Magal allegedly admitted he used soft drugs in the past.
The Deputy Minister noted that he “does not get into people’s private lives and doesn’t want to talk about it,” and instead referred to the ‘big picture’ politically, welcoming Magal’s choice.
“Yinon Magal is a good man, a quality fighter in Sayeret Matkal, who loves the Torah and the people of this country,” Wortzman said. “His children attend religious schools and he is strongly associated with values which represent the Jewish Home.”