Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s next government could end up being more
colorful and feature less people who wear black, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin
suggested recently in a panel discussion at Jerusalem’s Shalom Hartman
Elkin spoke at a forum that dealt with the possibility of a
coalition without haredi parties.
The event was closed to the press, but
in a tape of the discussion that reached Ma’ariv political reporter Ze’ev Kam,
Elkin said a coalition without Shas and United Torah Judaism was
“The haredi parties are not going with our bloc,” Elkin said.
“For a long time I have been saying that there is no such thing as a right-wing
bloc in this election unlike the last election, because the haredi parties are
saying they will go with the bloc that will help them settle the problem of
exemptions from the IDF.”
The Likud MK said the working assumption of the
haredim was that the Left was more likely to solve the problem of haredi
conscription to their benefit, something he said had been proven correct
“When the haredim joined left-wing governments, they dealt
with matters of religion and state quicker, easier and quieter,” Elkin
Back in October, United Torah Judaism warned that it would
seriously consider joining a coalition government of the Center-Left bloc
instead of the Right.
“We’re not beholden to Bibi [Netanyahu], we’re not
in his hands, and we won’t automatically go with the right bloc,” a UTJ official
told The Jerusalem Post.
Another Likud official suggested it had become
less likely Shas would be in the next coalition because Arye Deri, who joined
the party’s leadership triumvirate, had publicly insulted Netanyahu and his
Speaking to the Post, Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev poured cold water
on Elkin’s comments, saying that that the Likud man had got his numbers wrong
regarding the possibility of forming a government without the haredi
“He who takes up his sword should not boast like someone who has
successfully used it,” quipped Ze’ev, quoting from the biblical Book of Kings
and questioning Likud-Beytenu’s ability to increase its share of the vote in the
“Without the haredi parties they’ll need the leftists
but this new [Likud-Beytenu joint list] has become right-wing plus, and their
diplomatic policies are too different from that of Labor and Lapid for them to
join together in a coalition,” Ze’ev argued.
“Furthermore, the members of
Netanyahu’s own party won’t let him take that step,” he
Regarding Elkin’s claim that religious demands of the haredi
parties may be incompatible with Likud-Beytenu, Ze’ev said that Shas does not
have any special demands on such issues and simply wished to preserve the status
quo, as it had done in previous governing coalitions with the
Addressing the issue of haredi enlistment in national service –
likely one of the first issues a new government will tackle – Ze’ev claimed that
many of the declarations made by politicians on the issue in the last Knesset
session were “mere populism” and that the only way to solve the issue would be
through “moderation and compromise.”
“It’s more comfortable for them to
ignore reality during election season and make populist declarations,” he
“But coercively drafting yeshiva students into the army would lead
to civil war and simply won’t happen.
“We can increase the numbers of
haredim going to the army, into the reserves and civilian service,” he said.
“It’s achievable but it has to be done responsibly and with careful