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Deri: Likud Beytenu is party of ‘Russians, whites’
By GIL HOFFMAN
12/28/2012
After Liberman insults Shas Minister Attias, Deri warns Sephardim that "only Shas will take care of them" in next gov't.
 
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 ministers.

“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.”

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Shas 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.

Yisrael Beytenu officials responded that the new Shas campaign and quotes were unfortunate, noting the likelihood that the two parties would sit together in the next government.

“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 report.

Livni responded by calling Netanyahu pathetic.

“The more 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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