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'Likud-Beytenu prefers coalition without haredim'
By LAHAV HARKOV AND JEREMY SHARON
12/12/2012
MK Kirschenbaum: Party prefers coalition with larger Center-Left parties, to avoid "political extortion" from smaller parties.
 
MK Faina Kirschenbaum on Tuesday became the third Likud-Beytenu lawmaker to say the parties would prefer a coalition without haredim after the January 22 election.

Earlier this month, coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) made similar statements.

Kirschenbaum, the Yisrael Beytenu secretary-general and a close ally of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, said the party hopes to form a coalition with larger, center-left parties.

“If blocs are created on the Right and Left, then we will not be dependent on small parties and haredi parties, and we can bring a big change,” Kirschenbaum said at a political event at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design in Ramat Gan.

“We will not have to deal with those parties’ political extortion and make changes that are better for the State of Israel,” she continued.

One of the major changes, Kirschenbaum said, will be to the system of government.

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Last week, Elkin said there is no right-wing bloc in the current election, because haredi parties are willing to join any coalition that will help them avoid having to serve in the army.

The coalition chairman spoke in an event closed to press, but a tape of his speech reached Ma’ariv reporter Ze’ev Kam.

Hotovely told high school students in Ness Ziona that the only way to bring equality in the burden of IDF service is to form a coalition without haredi parties.

Shas MK Nissim Ze’ev poured cold water on Elkin’s comments, telling The Jerusalem Post that that the Likud man had got his numbers wrong regarding the possibility of forming a government without the haredi parties.

“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 coming election.

“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.

Addressing the issue of ultra- Orthodox enlistment in national service – likely one of the first issues a new government will tackle – Ze’ev claimed that many of the recent declarations made by politicians on the issue were “mere populism” during an election season and that the only way to solve the issue will be through “moderation and compromise.”

“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 deliberation.”
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