Neither United Torah Judaism nor Shas will join a prospective government led by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the next general election if an alternative to the “Tal Law” is approved that drastically changes the status of yeshiva students, Deputy Health Minister Ya’acov Litzman hinted Thursday night, in conversation with The Jerusalem Post.
Litzman, from United Torah Judaism, expressed outrage that, from his point of view, Netanyahu had decided to put his new partnership with Kadima ahead of the bond between the Likud and the ultra-Orthodox parties, a bond that went back to the government Menachem Begin formed in 1977.
“The prime minister said a few years ago that UTJ and Shas have a historic accord as natural partners,” Litzman said. “Only he can decide if this still stands. If he wants to break the accord, that’s up to him.”
Asked if the haredi parties had presented any proposals of their own within the framework of their negotiations with the prime minister’s advisers, Litzman repeated UTJ’s message that “whoever is learning [Torah] must be allowed to remain in yeshiva, and whoever is evading the draft – from all sectors, not just the haredim – should serve.”
He argued heatedly, however, that it was not his job to encourage or find ways to increase enlistment within the haredi community. He expressed particular offense at a plan Kadima has advanced, which calls for personal financial sanctions against those who do not serve.
“Why fine us as if we are criminals?” he asked. “I am in favor of giving benefits to those who serve, but we have not stolen anything and there is no reason to sanction us.”
Litzman stressed that his party was not about to leave the coalition, but he said that if Netanyahu intended to choose between his party and Kadima, the choice should be obvious.
“Our staying power is a lot clearer than Kadima’s,” he said.