There is a blatant boycott of an entire public underway, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz (Likud) said Sunday in reference to Yesh Atid's refusal to sit in a coalition with the haredi parties.
Steinitz said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu correctly disagrees with the "boycott" and that he himself "does not understand these games."
The finance minister echoed comments made by head of the Likud Beytenu negotiating team Attorney David Shimron in recent days that by upholding its pact with Yesh Atid not to join the coalition without one another, Bayit Yehudi is de facto boycotting the haredim as well.
"The Bayit Yehudi party can say whatever it wants, but Bayit Yehudi is boycotting the haredi parties, this is an undesirable reality," Steinitz said.
He supported Netanyahu's repeated claim that Israel needs a wide coalition in order to face the variety of challenges it faces. Steinitz listed security threats, the instability of the region and the economic situation in Europe and the US as issues that affect Israel. "I really do not like boycotts, even if they are indirect," he asserted.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid publicly and explicitly stated for the first time Saturday night that he would not sit in the same coalition as ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism, while Bayit Yehudi stuck to its commitment to enter a government only if Yesh Atid joins as well.
Earlier on Saturday, Lapid posted a lengthy status on his Facebook profile explaining that while he does not reject haredi people, he does not want to be in the same coalition as haredi parties.
“I do not believe that Shas and UTJ can sit in a government that will make the changes for which we went to elections: Changing the criteria for [subsidized] housing, core curriculum studies for all, equality in the burden of enlistment and the necessary cuts in yeshiva budgets.... This is the new civil agenda, which most citizens of this country support, but the haredi parties firmly oppose. That’s their right, but politicians have to be prepared to pay the price for their positions,” he wrote.
Lapid also criticized the haredi parties’ political tactics, writing that they do not accept the rules of the democratic game.
“No one likes to lose, but everyone accepts the basic idea that sometimes you’re in the coalition, and sometimes in the opposition,” he explained, adding that if Yesh Atid ends up in the opposition, they will go proudly, without feeling that someone hates or rejects them.
“Everyone, that is, except for the haredi parties,” he said.
Lapid pointed out that no matter what ideology won the last election – “Left, Right, socialist, capitalist, two-state solution or whole Land of Israel” – the ultra- Orthodox are always willing to be in the coalition.
Lahav Harkov contributed to this report