Knesset member Bezalel Smotrich has been elected the new head of the National Union Party.

Smotrich beat Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel for leadership of the party in a vote of 83-40.

Because of time constraints going into the campaign for the April 9 general election, the new leadership was elected by a limited forum of 128 members of the National Union central committee rather than in party-wide primaries.

Smotrich expressed his appreciation for his party’s vote of confidence.

“Thank you for your faith in me. I’m not happy, only fearful and awed at the heavy responsibility you have entrusted me with,” he said.

“I am reaching out to my teacher, Uri Ariel. I am calling on you to continue to contribute from your great experience for the sake of the party,” he added.

In the 2015 election, National Union and Habayit Hayehudi ran as a joint party under the leadership of Naftali Bennett, who in a surprise move left Habayit Hayehudi (Jewish Home) in December.