MK Yair Lapid ruled out that his Yesh Atid party would join Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu’s government together with Shas, according to a report on
Channel 10 Thursday night.
Lapid had been careful for months not to veto
the participation of haredi parties in the coalition. But the Yesh Atid leader
was quoted in closed conversations on Thursday vowing not to sit together with
“I am not even considering entering a government with Shas,” Lapid
said, according to the report. “If I will be in the traditional photograph at
the President’s Residence the day the government is sworn in standing next to a
minister from Shas, my political career is over.”
A Yesh Atid spokesman
would neither confirm nor deny that Lapid made such a statement.
party source clarified that Lapid would only say such things if Shas continued
to refuse to compromise on key issues related to equalizing the burden of IDF
The source said that if Shas demonstrated flexibility, Lapid and
the rest of the Yesh Atid faction would have no problem cooperating with the
Shas co-chairman Arye Deri responded that “Lapid apparently is not
aware that those who care about the good of the state and avoiding a national
rift do not resort to boycotting other parties.”
Deri said that Shas
would “continue to behave responsibly and sensitively on all issues to achieve a
A Yesh Atid official who is particularly close to Lapid
said this week that his party wanted to help the haredim, not fight them. The
official said the party leadership realized that compromising with Shas inside
the government would be much more effective than joining a coalition with no
haredi parties and trying to force their proposals on the haredim.
Yesh Atid official hinted that later on in coalition talks, after matters of
principle have been decided and negotiations on portfolios have begun, his party
would push for the Foreign Ministry for Lapid. The official said his party
deserved one of the top three portfolios and vowed that it would not give its
top ministry to an outside appointment, such as an economist to be finance
Following reports that former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman
would insist on returning to his former post, Lapid was quoted as saying that he
did not consider himself qualified to be defense minister or finance minister.
Lapid gained leverage that he could use to obtain the Foreign Ministry when
Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett prevented Netanyahu from forming a
government without Yesh Atid.
Netanyahu attempted this week to woo Bayit
Yehudi into a coalition with Shas, United Torah Judaism (UTJ), Kadima and the
Tzipi Livni Party that would exclude Yesh Atid. The prime minister offered
Bennett the Education portfolio that religious Zionist parties traditionally
Bennett rejected the offer and maintained his understandings with
Lapid that neither party would join a coalition without the other.
officials said they expected Bennett to eventually cave in and accept
Netanyahu’s offer, but UTJ MKs appeared to accept their fate that they will not
be in the coalition.
Following a meeting with Bennett on Thursday, UTJ MK
Moshe Gafni said there was a strong possibility his party would end up in the
opposition. He said that whether or not his party would join the coalition, he
would do everything possible to prevent harm to haredim from the proposals that
seek to equalize the burden of service.