Tel Aviv - “A Jewish spring is sweeping Israel,” Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett triumphantly told his supporters late Tuesday night in Kfar Maccabia in Ramat Gan after the election results were announced.
Supporters enthusiastically greeted him with the chant, “Here comes the next prime minister,” even though it was already clear that his party, which came in at 11 mandates had done less well than the 16 mandates the pollsters had predicted.
Supporters sang, “The Jewish nation lives,” and waved flags, as Bennett with a jacket and a button down shirt open at the collar, stood on the stage, smiled and waved at them.
Bennett had hoped his party would be the third largest. Instead it tied with Shas, following Likud-Beytenu at 31, Yesh Atid at 19 and Labor at 15.
Still, he grew the party by an extra eight seats, up from the three that it held in the 18th Knesset.
It was this victory that Bennett and party supporters focused on, as he delivered a rousing speech touting Bayit Yehudi’s success.
But first he thanked the IDF soldiers, who he said, were sitting in the cold on the country’s borders guarding the country, as they stood in Kfar Maccabia.
“We wish you a good and quiet night,” he said to the soldiers, and added, “You are the true heroes.”
Bennett repeated his party’s message of unity and hope, stating the party’s slogan, “Today we have created a new home in the state of Israel, a home for religious, secular, haredim, Jews, Druz, Arabs, men, women, Sephardim, and Ashkenzim,” he said.
“Today, Israel is restored,” he said.
“Today, we have created a new home for those who want a nation that is sure of itself, believes in its strength and knows how to protect its citizens,” he said.
Their party, he said, is for all those who support the IDF and are not prepared to have their hands tied, or referred to as criminals. The soldiers, Benentt said, “are the reasons we can celebrate here tonight.”
His party, he said, was a place for those who did want to see the country controlled by tycoons and who want to see prices lowered.
“We will be tested by our ability to fight for all of Israel,” Bennett said.
His party would worry about equity for all of Israel’s children, so that a child who was born in the periphery would have the same chances as those from the center.
His party, he said, would ensure that Israeli children would learn of the nation’s history, religion, heroes and traditions.
It is a party for those who support the nation of Israel and love it, he said.
“We won’t apologize for it,” he said. This is the land of our forefathers who once walked here, Bennett said.
Speaking of his opposition to a Palestinian state, Bennett said, “there is no such thing as ‘two narratives.’ There is one simple truth. The land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel.”
He added, “we are restoring the Jewish soul to the state of Israel.”
The national Zionist religious camp in the past had always been an important partner in Israeli government, those on the Left and on the Right.
Bayit Yehudi is not a sectorial party, it will serve everyone’s interests, he said.
“Tonight we are once again making history. Today we have returned to the center of the political map,” Bennett said.
Supporters broke up his speech with chants. Once he finished speaking, they waved flags, sang songs and danced.
Content is provided courtesy of the Jerusalem Post
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