Party’s Official Name: Am Shalem
Leader – Chaim Amsellem
MKs in current Knesset – 1
Latest Haaretz poll – 0
Two years after he was kicked out of Shas for not agreeing to hide his moderate views on various issues of rabbinical law, the maverick rabbi and Knesset member Chaim Amsellem is running at the head of his independent party, Am Shalem (Whole Nation). The party’s manifesto calls for national service for Haredi yeshiva students, general studies in ultra-Orthodox schools and a more liberal and inclusive conversion process. Besides Amsellem, the party has no well-known public figures on its list of candidates.
It is hard to assess the party’s prospects of crossing the electoral threshold and entering the next Knesset; some polls show them having three or even four MKs, while other polls do not give them a chance. For now, Am Shalem seems one of this election’s wild-cards.
Though Amsellem claims to be a right-winger, he would also be welcomed in a centrist coalition. If he does get in, his presence could create a major headache for Netanyahu since his eternal coalition allies, Shas, would almost certainly refuse to sit in a government with Amsellem who never misses an opportunity to lambaste them for betraying the Mizrahi community, their core constituents.