Deputy Knesset Speaker, MK Yoni Chetboun of the Jewish Home Party, says he receives “dozens of requests every day” to run for the party chairmanship. He does not rule out challenging Bennett, but says that at present, his time and energy are devoted to strengthening the party's religious-Zionist identity.
In this, too, he has been challenging Bennett's leadership. Chetboun explains that Bennett's controversial proposal for a party constitution is meant to enable placing non-religious candidates on the national religious party's list so as to gain secular, Russian-speaking and Druze support.
“I, too, want the party to be big and strong – but maybe it won't have 30 Knesset seats so fast,” he explains. “In my view, politics are about values, first and foremost – and there is a desire for a party that raises high the banner of Jewish values."
"In recent years, and especially due to the Yesh Atid and Hatnua parties, there has been a wave of legislation that seeks to separate religion and state and to undermine Jewish identity,” he elaborates. “We must stand for the state's Jewish identity on matters like the Surrogacy Law, halakhic conversion and Jewish marriage. Likud has ministers who want civil marriage, and if Bennett gets his wish, Jewish Home will be a liberal right wing party – or simply, Likud B.”
Chetboun believes that there is a large target audience out there that seeks traditional values even if they may not live a religious lifestyle – much of it in outlying communities (termed "periphery") and in the Sephardic communities that immigrated in the 1950's.
Chetboun, 35, lives in Jerusalem with his wife and seven children. Born in Nahariya shortly after his parents made aliya from France, he attended religious Zionist schools. A major in the Golani Brigade, he was awarded the Chief of Staff's Citation for courage and leadership under fire in the Second Lebanon War.