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Lapid’s rule for joining coalition: Shas or me
By LAHAV HARKOV
01/10/2013
Yesh Atid leader says he will only enter gvn't committed to equality in national service, slams Yacimovich, Bennett for weaker stances.
 
Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid may insist he is not following in the footsteps of his father, the late secularist justice minister Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, but he took a page out of the elder Lapid’s book on Wednesday, making it nearly impossible for him to join a coalition with Shas.

Lapid presented his “ironclad rule” for joining any coalition: equality in the burden of national service.

“[Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu had a historic opportunity to enlist the ultra-Orthodox and bring them into the workforce and leave a real mark on Israeli society, but at the last minute was afraid and ran away,” Lapid said at a press conference in Tel Aviv.

“He prefers to do nothing, so someone has to force him.”

According to Lapid, no one will be able to procrastinate on the issue if his party is in the next coalition.

“There won’t be another committee, no vague wording in the coalition agreement, no one will sell us stories that it’ll be discussed after we enter the government,” he said.

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“Don’t tell us it’s complicated. It’s not complicated. Everyone has to enlist in military or civilian service, and everyone has to study the core curriculum and everyone has to work,” Lapid said. “And don’t say that what I’m saying is antiharedi; it isn’t. I don’t want anything for them that I don’t want for my children or myself.”

Last week, Lapid said several times that his party will not be the “fig leaf in a right-wing haredi extremist government,” and that Yesh Atid will only join the coalition together with another centrist party.

Following Lapid’s latest announcement, whoever forms the next government will essentially have to choose between Yesh Atid, and Shas and United Torah Judaism.

Shas and UTJ declined to comment on Lapid’s implied ultimatum.

Lapid has also said in the past that he won’t join a coalition if Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman is defense minister, if talks with the Palestinians are not resumed or if no housing reform is enacted.

The Yesh Atid head did not spare criticism of his opponents on Wednesday, attacking party leaders for not taking a strong enough stance on the issue of haredi enlistment.

Lapid called on Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich to “stop avoiding the subject and stop saying it isn’t important.

What is more important than equality under law and how Israeli society will look?” He also attacked Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett, as someone who “says ‘equality in the burden’ out loud to the secular public, and then runs and whispers in haredi rabbis’ ears that they shouldn’t worry, he only meant those who don’t learn Torah.”

In a statement similar to Lapid’s, former foreign minister Tzipi Livni said on Wednesday that her newly formed Tzipi Livni Party will not sit in “a government of right-wing extremists and haredim.”

“I am here to fight for Israel’s character, to fight for a diplomatic agreement and to prevent turning Israel to a halachic state, to fight for equality in the burden,” Livni said, adding that she will not be “the fig leaf of an extremist government.”

“I offered to form a bloc of over 40 seats [The Tzipi Livni Party together with Labor and Yesh Atid]. If we go to the opposition, Netanyahu will form a shaky, extremist government,” she continued.

Livni explained her plan to refuse to join the coalition Netanyahu is expected to form after the January 22 election, forcing him into a national emergency government in which she, Lapid and Yacimovich will be able to promote their agenda.

Unfortunately, she added, the other Center- Left party leaders refused her offer.

“Lapid tried to say there’s no such thing as a bloc, as if he founded a sectorial party, and Yacimovich decided she’s in the opposition no matter what,” Livni said at a conference at Ono Academic College in Kiryat Ono. “I want to see them as part of a partnership that can replace Netanyahu. It isn’t personal.”

Boaz Nol, leader of the Camp Sucker protest movement, pointed out that Lapid’s plan for haredi enlistment would allow the ultra-Orthodox five more years without enlisting so they can enter the workforce.

“Lapid promises equality, but gives an exemption for five years. He could be Netanyahu’s next sucker in the coalition, as [Kadima chairman Shaul] Mofaz was,” Nol said. “If he really wants equality, he’ll accept Livni’s initiative for a joint front against Netanyahu and the extremists.” •
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