Shas embarked on a full-scale ethnic campaign Thursday, accusing the joint Likud-
Yisrael Beytenu list of discriminating against Sephardim and contributing to the
secularization of the state.
The campaign came in reaction to statements
by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman insulting Shas’s Ariel Attias,
minister of construction and housing.
Arye Deri, of the Shas leadership
triumvirate, warned that just as the Likud “humiliated” cabinet minister Moshe
Kahlon, it was trying to humiliate the rest of the Sephardi
“Now it is clear who is really in charge of Likud Beytenu,”
said Deri. “Yisrael Beytenu took over the Likud in a hostile takeover. From the
party of the people, the Likud has become the party of arrogance that represents
Russians and whites.
This should be a wake-up call for all Sephardim that
only Shas will take care of them in the next Netanyahu government.”
officials say their surveys have found that the ethnic issue help the party. It
released a new commercial that contrasts tolerant quotes about Judaism by
Liberman in Hebrew, and anti-Shas quotes in Russian.
officials responded that the new Shas campaign and quotes were unfortunate,
noting the likelihood that the two parties would sit together in the next
“It’s very sad that Shas has brought out the ethnic genie
during the elections in 2012,” a source in Yisrael Beytenu said. “We hope they
will recognize this mistake and run an issues-based, substantive campaign rather
than resorting to crude attempts at electioneering.”
In an interview that
angered Shas, Liberman told the haredi magazine Mishpaha: “We will demand the
Interior and Housing portfolios, and Shas will get the Infrastructure portfolio,
which is a very nice portfolio, and the Tourism portfolio. I think Attias was not
a bad minister at all, but we will be better. Attias is fit to be tourism
minister. He can travel around the world.”
Netanyahu said in
closed conversations with ministers that he had not started building his next
coalition. He denied an Israel Radio report that his associates had met with
representatives of former foreign minister Tzipi Livni about cooperating in the
next government with her as foreign minister or minister in charge of
negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Livni handled negotiations badly,
mistakenly and in way that is completely unacceptable to me, so there is no
chance I would give her a foothold [in negotiations] if she is a minister in my
next government,” Netanyahu said, according to Haaretz. “I think very
differently from her when it comes to future negotiations with the
Palestinians. My view on negotiations is not similar to hers, so these
reports are baseless.”
Israel Radio said it stood by its
Livni responded by calling Netanyahu pathetic.
Bibi weakens in polls, the more he deals with giving out portfolios in the
press,” she said. “We have news for him: The elections aren’t over. We are here
to replace him.”
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.
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