Friday, February 20, 2009
According to the Jerusalem Post
...National Union leader Yaakov Katz is expected to be appointed a minister in such a government, representing the four-MK faction in the cabinet. In a deal reached among the parties making up the National Union on December 28, Katz committed himself to resign from the Knesset if he became a minister in order to allow the fifth candidate on the list, American native Uri Bank, become an MK.
"If the list wins four mandates and an MK is appointed a minister, the minister will immediately quit the Knesset to allow Uri Bank to enter," the agreement signed by Katz says.
Uri Bank discussed this eventuality during the counting of military and overseas votes in the Knesset on February 12th.
Thursday, February 12, 2009
Tori Cheifetz , THE JERUSALEM POST
Despite predictions that Detroit-born Uri Bank, 5th on the National Union's candidates list, would win a Knesset seat in Tuesday's election, no Anglos made the cut.
Not even adopted-Anglo Einat Wilf, who was 14th on Labor's list, took a seat. Recent immigrant Danny Hershtal, from Canada, sent out an e-mail appealing to his Anglo-constituency on Election Day, but was also stymied.
During the campaign, the Likud made a push for Anglo support. it launched a Web site and held events geared to native English speakers. Despite the quartet of Anglo candidates on the party's list, none got in.
On January 31 at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue, candidates from nine parties pledged to address Anglo's concerns. But as Tuesday's elections results came in, English speakers were left asking who will address their needs?
The Anglo community needs to be represented and I intend to be that representation," Bank pledged.
He still believes that his chances of gaining a seat in the legislature are good, thanks to a deal reached within the National Union, according to which if it wins four seats (it did), and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu names party head Yaakov Katz to his cabinet, Katz will resign from the Knesset and Bank will take his seat.
The National Union, which Bank told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday plans to be "at the forefront of aliya issues," believes these are not about the actual act of immigration, but the process of absorption that comes after.
"We have to encourage aliya," he said, "but nobody realizes that we also have to do much better on the absorption side. It's not just a question of Nefesh B'Nefesh doing all the work."
Bank's party plans to address key obstacles faced by new olim. The National Union Party will lobby to cancel a 2004 tax reform that taxes income from abroad. Bank vowed that if they couldn't cancel the tax, his party would ask for it to imposed only on immigrants who came after the reform was put into place.
"It's unjust. These people planned on spending a certain amount of money and then they had to pay more. You can't just place a tax reform on people retroactively," he said.
Bank also plans to address the issue of accreditation and licensing. "Is your knowledge of the human body any less because now you have to speak in Hebrew?" he asked. "It's ridiculous that olim have all this experience and yet they are subjected to months and months of 'internships.'"
Bank, who comes from a "culture of accountability," said that if he was given a seat in the Knesset he would have an open door policy for all his constituents, which he sees as "the entire Anglo community."
Hershtal is also an Anglo candidate who failed to win a seat on Tuesday. As the 21st candidate on Israel Beiteinu's list, Hershtal is not in a position to gain a seat, but has pledged to stay involved with the party specifically to advocate for the Anglo community.
"There are stumbling blocks that stop olim from coming or staying," he told the Post on Wednesday. "And Israel Beiteinu has always been in favor of reducing the bureaucracy faced by those making aliya."
Israel Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman was helping to privatize inefficient government monopolies, Hershtal said. "There needs to be a level playing field for olim," he said. "The government needs to allow for more competition."
Hershtal also said his party would be working closely with groups like Nefesh B'Nefesh and Ami, which aid people in the immigration process and their transition into Israeli society. Danny Ayalon, who became an Israel Beiteinu MK on Tuesday, is co-chairman of Nefesh B'Nefesh.
Another Anglo candidate, Alon Tal from North Carolina, was third on the Green Movement-Meimad's list, but the party did not reach 2 percent threshold to make it into the Knesset.
Wilf of Labor, who also failed to win a seat in the Knesset, was also expected to advocate for Anglo-issues. Although Israeli-born, Wilf, who was educated at both Harvard and Cambridge, was embraced by the English-speaking community after an appearance at the Anglo event at the Jerusalem Great Synagogue in January.
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Pictured: Media personality Yishai Fleisher and Uri Bank discuss strategy at a campaign meeting.
Pictured: English campaign manager Yehuda HaKohen interviews party leader Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz at the Jerusalem Conference.
Pictured: Well known Zionist activist and Women-in-Green head Nadia Matar campaigning for the Ichud Leumi in down-town Jerusalem.
Party chairman Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz said "Gimmel [the ballot symbol for United Torah Judaism] activists panicked because of our erosion [of their power in the hareidi city -ed.]"
Ichud Leumi commentary:
According to the LifeinIsrael blog:
UTJ is courting the Arab vote, claiming they will fight against Lieberman's racism.
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni says:we are against racism and for the Torah, and the Torah clearly says 'Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt,'" (Exodus 23:9).
Evidently the UTJ has taken to perverting the Torah and common sense to garner votes from the very same Arabs who chased Jews out of Um al-Fahm today with thrown rocks and chants of "death to the Jews!" The law quoted does not apply to a hostile population, but rather to a friendly one that accepts the basic rules of human discourse and civilized behavior. It is our sincere hope that we can put such foolish rivalries behind us and work together, as Jews, to build up our state to be a light unto the nations.
We hold out an olive branch of peace and co-operation to any and all Gimmelniks, especially those supporters who wish to work with the Ichud Leumi, and call upon them to entreat their activists and leaders to follow the Gimmel voters who have already begun to migrate over towards Jewish and Zionist principles of the Ichud Leumi.
Arabs chant "death to the Jews", Police capitulate to Arab mob including MK Muhammad Barakeh, ban Jewish monitors from Um al-Fahm
A 37-year-old woman who identified herself only as Majda said she would make sure to vote for an Arab party on Tuesday, although she still hadn't decided which one.
"The most important thing is to vote for an Arab party and against the Jews," she said. (JPOST)
(IsraelNN.com) MK Aryeh Eldad (Ichud Leumi/National Union) left Umm El-Fahm after an Arab mob began rioting and threatening him. Rocks were thrown at security forces, and shouts of "Death to the Jews!" could be heard. However, Eldad's spokeswoman Na'ama Cohen denied that Eldad left because of Arab rioting.
She said that Eldad had not planned to spend the entire day at Umm El-Fahm and that he decided to leave for other polling stations after sitting at the Umm El-Fahm station for about an hour. She said police had provided excellent protection and were not at fault.
Police arrested five rioters.
MK Eldad claimed that the event was a victory for the National Union. "We proved to the Arab public that Umm El-Fahm, too, is part of the
Eldad had entered the Israeli Arab city of
Eldad came to Umm el-Fahm in a police car, amid a heavy police presence. Referring to the police protection he received and the police refusal to allow Marzel into Umm el-Fahm and the protection, Eldad said, "I could not believe that the State of Israel would give in to terror and I'm glad to see that this did not happen. I have immunity and the police department is doing its job, at least for me."
The voters at Polling Station 12 underwent bodily security checks before entering the booth in order to protect Eldad from possible attack.
In response to the police decision to block Marzel from entering the city and carrying out his duty, MK Eldad said: "The Israel Police, apparently at [Attorney General Menachem] Mazuz's instructions, surrendered this morning to the Arab terror of Israel's enemies from within. The State of Israel has announced openly that it surrenders to violence, blackmail and treachery from the Arab sector." MK Eldad said the polls in Umm el-Fahm should be closed for fear of election fraud.
Leaders of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party called on Tuesday for polls in the Israeli Arab city of
The Commander of the Police's Amakim Region, Brig-Gen.Zohar Dvir, met
'Black day for democracy'
Marzel, whose faction is part of the Ichud Leumi (National Union) party, said that the decision made this day "a black day for democracy." Israeli police, he added, "are surrendering to a bunch of thugs. Today provided proof that the police do not control the Northern District. This is a shame and a disgrace." Marzel added that he would decide on legal steps as soon as he was officially informed of the police announcement.
The police said they had intelligence of concrete plans to harm Marzel if he entered the city. Dozens of Arabs gathered at the entrance to the city from the early morning hours in order to block Marzel. They were joined by MK Muhammad Barakeh of the Communist Hadash party. A sizeable police contingent headed by the Commander of the Police's Northern District, Brig-Gen Shimon Koren was also on hand.
The Arabs, who were led by members of Umm El-Fahm's municipality, inspected "suspicious" cars at the entrance to the city and a confrontation occurred when a car carrying religious Jewish ballot booth inspectors tried to enter. Police did not enable the Jews to enter and carry out their duty but rather whisked them away to the nearby police station.
Arab Ra'am Ta'al Party Sends Rep to Beit El
The Arab Ra'am Ta'al party, meanwhile, sent its own representative, as planned, to monitor the national elections in the Samarian Jewish community of Beit El.
Ra'am Ta'al MK Ahmed Tibi had previously vowed that the party would not send a representative because it does not recognize Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.
Israel National News, which is based in Beit El, notes that the representative is a Jewish member of the party, and not an Arab.
Monday, February 9, 2009
This is the verbatim text of the blog post by Rafi Goldmeier in which he interviews candidate Uri Bank.
I have been given the opportunity to interview Uri Bank, a candidate on the Ichud Leumi, National Union, party list. The interview was delayed because Uri was called up for reserve duty in the Gaza War.
Uri Bank, 40, a political strategist and administrator, made aliya from the
Uri served in the Tank Corps as a “chayal boded” (a “lone-soldier” – a soldier who has no family in
Uri is the Chairman of the Moledet Party’s Executive Board. He was recently elected number one on the Moledet slate for Knesset, which places him at number five on the joint Ichud Leumi (National Union) slate for the 18th Knesset.
Uri’s experience includes:
· Director of the Ichud Leumi-Israel Beiteinu Faction in the Knesset.
· Executive Director of the IDF preparatory yeshiva (“mechina”) in Nokdim.
· Senior Advisor to MK Benny Elon – both in the Knesset and during Minister Elon’s terms as Minister of Tourism. In this capacity, Uri worked extensively on legislation such as:
o Obliging the Government to obtain the approval of at least 61 Members of Knesset before negotiating with any other entity regarding the borders of the State of Israel.
o Weaning the country’s budget off of its dependency on American financial support, in order to increase
o Applying Israeli civil law to the residents of Yesha.
o Shortening the work-week to make Sunday a day-of rest.
o Amending the tax-reform bill to reduce its harmful implications for Olim
Q: Why did you decide to get into politics in
Uri: I've always believed in actively trying to implement and actuate my ideals instead of sitting on the sidelines while criticizing others and/or the given situation. This is why I became an activist on the grass-roots level while still a student at
I am an idealist and believe in standing up for what I believe in - even if it means self-sacrifice when it comes to my time, my strength, my resources and my own position in life and/or politics.
I chose the Moledet party specifically because it was the only party that offered a real diplomatic alternative to the Oslo Accords/Road Map etc. It was the one party of the National Camp that was actually not only saying "NO" to the left-wing's suicidal plans, but actually offering up a viable plan of its own in order to end the Israeli-Arab conflict. The other element that attracted me to Moledet was the fact that it was not a sectarian party defined by religous or ethnic lines, but one who's ideology entails orthodox and secular Jews working together in true harmony. One of the things we make sure of is that none of members are "anti"... one cannot be a member of Moledet if one is anti-orthodox and the same is true if one is anti-secular. We are interested in people being good Jews, which means close to Jewish tradition and heritage, but not necessarily everyone being orthodox or the opposite.
The Moledet Party has always been one of the parties that make up the joint Ichud Leumi list for Knesset - ever since the Ichud's inception in 1999. The two conditions that Moledet has set down for its participation, which the joint Ichud Leumi list has always met, are the two issues I mentioned above: the list's platform including Moledet's diplomatic plan for resolvingthe Israeli-Arab conflict and the list including representatives of both the orthodox and the secular parts of Israeli society.
Q: How did you, a relative newcomer, get so highly placed on the Ichud leumi list?
Uri:Many people assume that as an English speaker, I must be a newcomer, but I have lived in
Q: What do you bring to the Ichud that made you so obviously attractive to them?
Uri: I have accumulated a great deal of legislative experience as MK/Minister Benny Elon’s longtime senior aide and have had extensive experience in dealing with Knesset politics. I have served as director of the Ichud Leumi faction in the Knesset and I have been the Chairman of the Moledet party's executive Board for the past six years. I am also the Executive Director of the Israel Initiative, the only nationalist plan offered as an alternative to the
Q: Please tell us, the voters, why vote Ichud Leumi over any other right wing party (not against any specific party, but why specifically Ichud Leumi).
Uri: If you wish to understand a party, any party, you must look at two things, their voting record and their platform. I think that it has become abundantly clear that the Ichud Leumi has been the only party that has shown a consistent and strong opposition to territorial compromise. The Ichud Leumi is the only party that totally negates the institution of another palestinian state west of the Jordan River or any other type of giving land/sovereignty to Arabs, as well as being the only party that is promoting any kind of viable alternative peace plan that will bring real peace to Israel (see: www.Israelinitiative.com).
We have consistently been the most responsible voice in Israeli politics, warning anyone who cared to listen that the Land for Peace paradigm was doomed to fail and that conceding any land to the Arabs would only get us (and them…) more bloodshed. We are the modern-day Halutzim. The pioneers that have built up this country and were willing to live in Yehuda, Shomron and Gush Katif under harsh and dangerous conditions in order to protect the rest of
We are proud of the fact that we were successful in uniting five different parties and of the fact that we have Secular Jews and Haredi Jews as a central part of our leadership and constituency. Our commitment to cooperate with one another is not out of political need, but out of an ideology of Achdut Yisrael and together we create a much stronger force to fight for Am, Eretz and Torat Yisrael.
Our Chairman Ketzaleh and MK Uri Ariel have done no less, and maybe even more, than the Mafdal reps. when it comes to securing government funding for the Zionut HaDatit institutions and Arutz 7 and you can bank on the fact that they both will continue to do so with their proven talents and track records.
And on top of all of the above - you get one thing more when you vote for the Ichud Leumi... and that's me! The Jerusalem Post has recently named me: "the only Anglo candidate running with a party currently represented in the Knesset who has any chance of getting elected." I have formulated an initiative to help cut through the red-tape and injustices that many times accompany
Q: What is your opinion on the split in the National Religious political world and Ichud not running together with Bayit Yehudi? Will the split harm the right wing side of Israeli politics? Why could the unity party not work?
Uri: It is always a shame when there must be a political split. The Ichud Leumi believes in the essential unity of the Jewish people. This can be seen in the diverse composition of our party. The Ichud Leumi is constituted of Chassidim like Rabbi Wolpe, National Religious like MK Uri Ariel, Secular Jews like MK Dr. Arieh Eldad and many other strands of thought and lifestyle.
We have a vote sharing agreement with the Jewish Home party and look forward to working with them on legislation. However, the Jewish Home party has stated its intention to allow its MKs to vote as they wish on issues on territorial concessions.
Speaking with Arutz Sheva MK Nissan Slomiansky stated that “…it’s obvious that every Prime Minister in
Their previous Chairman Zvulun Orlev (the current #2 on their list) continued to sit in Ariel Sharon's government even after this government decided to expel the Jews of Gush Katif and Northern Shomron -thus contributing to
Another advantage the Ichud Leumi has over the Jewish Home is that the Ichud Leumi represents the entire ethnic and ideological makeup of this nation while the Jewish Home is non-ideological and only represents the interests of one aspect, one group, within Am Yisrael. They are therefore a small, sectarian party that caters only to the National Orthodox community and does not serve as a bridge between the secular and orthodox sides of Israeli society. This is proven by the fact that they have never agreed to put a non-orthodox Jew on their list for Knesset.
Q: Which part do you see as being Ichud Leumi's main rival and competition for voters? Yisrael beiteinu? Bayit Yehudi? Likud? other?
Uri: I believe that the biggest danger to the land of Israel camp at this point stems from Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party. Lieberman’s campaign slogan is about the trust that we must place in him. I truly believe that we must trust Lieberman to act according to his principles and that we must believe his words.
According to the Yisrael Beiteinu party platform “The responsibility for primarily Arab areas such as Umm Al-Fahm and the ‘triangle’ will be transferred to the Palestinian Authority. In parallel, Israel will officially annex Jewish areas in Judea and Samaria. Israel is our home; Palestine is theirs.” Lieberman would give up large tracts of land within the Green line and hand them over to a PA that has a history of terror and radicalization of its subject populace. Lieberman has also stated his intention to give up neighborhoods in East Jerusalem as part of any peace agreement. This would cause a repeat of the shootings on the Gilo neighborhood a hundred fold upon us.
Moreover, Lieberman’s support for civil marriage would destroy the very fabric from which our Jewish state is cut.
Israel Beiteinu has taken the position, if you actually read their platform, of dividing the state of Israel and even Jerusalem, bringing such places as Ben Gurion international airport and West Jerusalem under the type of attacks that are currently being perpetrated on Sderot, Ashkelon, Beer Sheva, Ashdod, Saad, Netivot and more, due to the Likud led disengagement, which Bibi voted for.
Q: How do you plan on attracting voters and convincing them to vote for you rather than for that party (from above - the primary competition)?
Uri: I think that the most important thing for us to do is to simply show people Lieberman’s ideas in his own words. It becomes pretty obvious, once you read his platform, that his toughness against the Arabs is a calculated pose, with nothing substantive behind it. He would be tough against the Arabs? Even Kadima voted to ban the Arab parties. He is just Kadima with tougher talk.
Q: Do you have a message to the wider public, or are you purely a "settler" party? The ads Ichud have been running have been pretty limited to the "settler" public - "To Settle the Land and not be Afraid". Is that your target audience or do you see the party having appeal to the public at large?
Uri: Our message is one for the entire population of Israel. Almost every city, town and village was settled or resettled some time within the last hundred or so years. I think that the message here is that we should not have to be afraid to put down our roots and to settle anywhere in Eretz Yisrael, pre or post ’67 borders. Settlement does not refer to Judea and Samaria. Settlement refers to the Golan, the Negev, expanding Bet Shemesh and Jerusalem and building new cities like Modi'in. However, the continuing expansion of our population and its related economic and cultural growth is impeded by Arab aggression and Jewish timidity.
How can our pioneers, who are settling the Negev and continuing to make it bloom, continuing the dream of such as Ben Gurion, continue to live when they are under missile attack? How can Nefesh B’Nefesh convince new Olim, as they have been attempting, to move up north when there is a persistent threat from Hezbollah? We stand for the right of Jews to live anywhere within our land and our country without fear and without prejudice. This is not a limited message, we are all pioneers. Rafi, I believe that you live in Ramat Bet Shemesh. This is a settlement. By right, it is no different than Sderot in the Negev, or Maaleh Efraim in the Jordan Valley. Do not forget, that the Arabs consider your home as much a settlement as mine in Gush Etzion.
Q: Ichud Leumi is made up of various factions that would have run alone and probably wasted votes. Can Marzel, or any other faction for that matter, veto any future coalition agreement with the Likud? What power do the individual factions within Ichud have on the party as a whole?
Uri: The parties will reach their decision by democratic majority within the elected Knesset faction. None of the parties has the power to veto decisions, but we will make every effort to reach joint, unanimous decisions whenever possible.
Q: Is there anything else, a message or point that you would like to take this opportunity to get across to the voters?
Uri: The future of the state of Israel is now at stake. As a believer, I do not for a moment doubt our right to this land, or our eventual triumph. However, there is nothing written that says that it must be easy or that there will not be hard times if we do not stand fast and work hard for the dreams of our Zionist forebears. The left has brought us to a situation where we have been asked to sacrifice needlessly on the alter of “process”. By this I mean that the idealistic (though flawed) attempts at peace by Yitzchak Rabin have been replaced by a continuing allegiance to a dead process that has not brought us any closer to peace, but has caused tremendous death and destruction on both sides. If you wish to find the root cause of Arab suffering since 1993, please look no further than our own “peaceful” left.
I do not wish to be a “sacrifice for peace” nor do I want anyone else to suffer for the left’s repeated mistakes. I believe that we have seen the results of concessions, results that the Ichud Leumi has warned about since the beginning. If we want a strong Israel, if we want a secure Israel, if we want an Israel that is proud of itself, then we must choose to support a party that will not cater to the defeatists on the left and that will not buckle under pressure from nations that stood by as six million Jews were murdered.
There is hope, there is a future, there will be security, but we must be strong and resolute. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is the Ichud Leumi.
Ari Shavit's findings on Tzipi Livni
Ari Shavit, a reporter for Haaretz, has some interesting discoveries about Tzipi Livni:
Over the past week I took statements from about a dozen people who know Tzipi Livni quite well. None of them is close to either Benjamin Netanyahu or Ehud Barak. Most support Kadima or parties on the left. Nevertheless, all are concerned. The portrait they paint of Livni is a disturbing one.
"Kadima's chairwoman is a principled, patriotic, exemplary human being. She is intelligent and a quick study. But there is one fault that no one disputes: Livni is short-tempered. Her more serious critics believe she has an attention deficit. She is incapable of delving into the details of a document or of sustaining an extended discussion. She does not stay with a topic until it has been completely clarified. Her thinking is not clear and she cannot distinguish the wheat from the chaff. Unlike Netanyahu and Barak, who can get to the bottom of an issue and discuss it in all its complexity, Livni tends to oversimplify, to go for the schematic. One of the most respected figures in the country says she is opinionated and superficial."
Read the rest, but let me just note that Livni is anything but patriotic, and I wouldn't be surprised if she weren't that principled either. Nor do I personally consider her particularly intelligent. But I guess this is as honest a take as you can get from a left-wing newspaper on what Livni is really like.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
The endorsements are in. According to the latest Havei Haveilim Jblog carnival eleven (witha twelfth leaning towards us) out of eighteen bloggers chose the Ichud Leumi. This implies that the well informed (such as news junkie Jbloggers) support our party. The more you know, the more likely you are to choose MKs like ours.
There is no question about it.
Anyone foolish enough to vote for Lieberman thinking they may get a right-wing party, is in actuality giving a vote to Tzippy Livni and Kadima.
There has been much speculation as to why Lieberman has been growing (at the Likud's expense), but one interesting theory espoused is that Lieberman is getting the Tommy Lapid/Shinui vote. Those people who voted out of hatred for the Hareidim, are now voting out of hatred for the Arabs. That's a scary thought.
But let's get back to the topic at hand. Lieberman sat in the Kadima government and propped up Ehud Olmert - exactly when his government was in such bad shape that elections were just around the corner.
Lieberman has no problem sitting with a Leftist party like Kadima, and has quite decisively not announced he would support a Bibi government over Livni's. You might say he is posturing before elections, but that clearly is not the case. Lieberman will sit wherever he gets more ministerial seats.
Worse, as Caroline Glick pointed out, Leiberman did nothing to prevent or slow down Iran's nuclear ambitions while he had his custom tailored ministerial seat, and worse, he kept the frozen Kadima government in power and delayed elections which just extended this inaction.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
The interview is posted online on the Life in Israel blog and can be found at http://tinyurl.com/lifeinisraelwithuribank.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Feb. 5, 2009
Max Socol , THE JERUSALEM POST
With Tuesday's election fast approaching, Uri Bank appears to have successfully positioned himself to join the next Knesset as a National Union MK.
Bank, 40, a member of Moledet who lives in Neveh Daniel, in Gush Etzion, with his wife and three children, made aliya from Chicago when he was 12 and stayed when his parents left the country five years later.
"In between elections, there's this political culture where Israelis have no one to represent them," Bank said on Wednesday. "I've promised that I intend to bring a culture of accountability with me."
Recent projections suggest that the National Union will win four or five seats, although Bank said his internal polling now gave the party six mandates.
Those numbers are enough to guarantee Bank will become an MK - unlike fellow Anglo candidate Shalom Lerner, who, at a distant 39th on the Likud list (representing Effi Eitam's Ahi party), has the next-best opportunity to enter the Knesset. Lerner has lived in New York, Baltimore and London
Bank is No. 5 on the National Union's candidates list, but the party has agreed that if it wins four seats and enters the government, its minister would quit the Knesset to make room for Bank. They also decided that Bank would become the faction's manager in the Knesset if they win fewer than five seats and remain in the opposition.
Both Bank and Lerner are better positioned than the other Anglo candidates, who are confined to an assortment of Green parties struggling to get into the Knesset.
Bank wants to use Knesset vote as leverage to give the National Union more control over the future of the Palestinians. He remained unimpressed with Likud leader Binymain Netanyahu's Palestinian policy. "Looking at the past 15 years, we [the smaller parties] have proven ourselves to be the responsible leaders," Bank said. "We're going to be the 'Bibi-sitters.' He needs a group of people truly loyal to Israel to keep him in check."
Under the leadership of the retiring MK Benny Elon, the National Union has developed "The Israeli Initiative," which advocates the voluntary transfer of the West Bank's Arab population to a Palestinian state created from the territory of Jordan.
Bank pledged to continue to push the plan, despite Elon's failure to gain any traction with Jordanian authorities.
"I think I have a better understanding, like all English-speaking olim, on how to deal with the international community," Bank said. "Israelis are sometimes in awe of the international community, and they tend to capitulate in ways that undermine the security of Israel."
According to Bank, the National Union will resist such concessions, including to new US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. In 2001, Mitchell led a government commission exploring the origins of the second intifada, in which he suggested freezing all settlement growth.
"We'll be able to stand up to that kind of pressure," Bank said. "We'll say, 'Don't ask us to do something that you would never do yourselves.' And if [the US] does ask, the answer will be 'no.'"
Bank said he intended to make the National Union a central element in addressing the concerns of immigrants, from taxes to housing.
"I see myself as a congressman, with a constituency. I'm going to have an open-door policy for the Anglo community, with some mother-tongue English-speaking staff," he said.
He is challenging campaign territory held by the Likud, which has worked hard to win the support of Israel's Anglo population, using an English-language Web site and advertisements, and frequent political gatherings and rallies in English.
Bank hopes to challenge the Likud's entire governing philosophy, from a post within its coalition.
"As much as it pains me to agree with Shimon Peres, he was right that you can't just negate what your rival is saying," Bank said. "No one gave an alternative to the Left's land-for-peace plan. You can't win if you don't have an alternative."