Shas triumvirate leader Arye Deri expressed satisfaction and optimism with his
party’s exit poll results on Tuesday evening, and promised to protect the weak
sectors of society who Shas has campaigned for in the coming
Exit polls predicted 10-13 seats for the party, which
currently holds 11 Knesset mandates.
Deri also roundly denounced Haim
Amsalem and Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak for running against Shas and accused their
respective parties, Am Shalem and Koah Lehashpia, of causing Shas to drop two
seats, despite the fact they neither of them passed the electoral
“This was the hardest campaign Shas has ever faced but we have
proved that we are the most stable party of government and that Rabbi Ovadia
Yosef is the leader of Sephardi Jewry in Israel and around the world,” Deri
declared. “We will represent the weak in society in the next government
regardless of sectoral considerations. Poverty has no color and poverty has no
kippa,” he continued, emphasizing Shas’ campaign message of protecting the poor
from budget cuts in the next government.
Earlier on Tuesday, haredi
politicians from both Shas and United Torah Judaism took to the streets of
ultra-Orthodox strongholds in a final and massive effort to get out the vote
amid concerns for their electoral showing.
MKs from UTJ were especially
active, traveling around the country to the party’s regional headquarters in
cities such as Elad, Ramat Beit Shemesh, Modi’in Illit, Bnei Brak and beyond, to
help boost the ultra-Orthodox turnout and the haredi parties’ share of the
At the same time, the haredi politicians issued dire warnings
throughout the day about the consequences for the ultra-Orthodox world if there
was not high voter participation in the community.
Before the exit polls
were announced, Deri sounded uncharacteristically doubtful that his party would
emerge with any significant electoral gains.
“I believe we will see an
increase [in Knesset seats for Shas], any increase will be an achievement,” he
said. “It must be remembered however that we have two parties competing with us
who will not pass the electoral threshold but will eat into our share of the
vote by almost two mandates,” he explained earlier on Tuesday, referring to the
new Am Shalem and Koah Lehashpia Parties.
UTJ party chairman Yisrael
Eichler said he was worried about “the increased turnout in non-religious areas”
while visiting the party’s headquarters in the haredi city of Elad.
shows that the main issue in this election is not diplomatic, security or
economic or security concerns but that there is a war against God and his
Speaking on haredi radio station Kol Hai, Eichler went further
and said that possible changes to the electoral system that may be advanced in
the coming Knesset would greatly reduce the political power of the haredi
parties, imposing even greater obligations on the community to come out and
The haredi rabbinic and political leadership has repeatedly
declared this election to be a time of religious emergency due to proposed
legislation they see as threatening to the ultra-Orthodox lifestyle and
One of their principle issues of concern is proposed
legislation to rescind the mass exemptions from military service which full-time
yeshiva students were able to claim until last August.
Election Day campaign tour, UTJ MK and Deputy Education Minister Menachem
Eliezer Moses said the election was “a critical time which will determine the
future of the haredi community,” while senior party MK and Knesset Finance
Committee Chairman Moshe Gafni said that every haredi person must
“This is a fateful election, no one can stay at home,” he
Meanwhile, former MK and UTJ’s third-placed candidate Meir
Porush had a busy day touring Elad, Rehovot, Kiryat Malachi and Kiryat Gat;
Gafni visited Modi’in Illit and Elad; Deputy Health Minister and UTJ MK Yaakov
Litzman went to drum up the vote in Rishon Lezion and Kiryat Sanz in Netanya;
Mozes toured Kiryat Gat and Modi’in Illit; while UTJ fourth-placed candidate Uri
Maklev dropped in on Ramat Beit Shemesh and Rehovot to boost haredi
The rabbinic leadership of the haredi world was also active
Tuesday. Shas spiritual leader, the 92- year old Yosef, was up early in the
morning to cast his vote and broadcast an Election Day message on
“We should all vote to strengthen the Torah, to strengthen
Judaism and the Jewish people,” said Yosef, who suffered a mild stroke last
week. “I turn to the Sephardim in particular to say to all who love the Torah
that everyone should go and vote for the Shas movement and fulfill the
commandment of strengthening the Torah.”
Spiritual leader of the
Ashkenazi haredi non-hassidic world, Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, 98, fasted all
day and recited psalms for the success of UTJ at the polls, while 85 year-old
Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, perhaps the second most respected rabbi in the haredi
community, voted in his home town of Bnei Brak just after 7 a.m.
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