Joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said on Saturday night that he feels Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prefers to form a new government without Shas.
Speaking on Channel 2, Yishai estimated that there was just a thirty percent chance of Shas joining the next coalition and accused Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid of seeking to “divide the nation and wanting to destroy the world of Torah.”
But speaking at the ceremony in which President Shimon Peres authorized him to begin forming a government, Netanyahu echoed the language of the haredi parties regarding the central issue of haredi national service enlistment.
The prime minister said that it was important to “significantly increase the share of the burden [of national service],” but that it must be done in a “responsible manner that will bring real change without dividing the nation and causing a civil war.”
Haredi political and rabbinic leaders frequently speak of a compromise on the issue in these terms, usually with the implication that mandating universal enlistment to include full-time yeshiva students would be unacceptable to them.
On Thursday, Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef wrote a letter to President Shimon Peres asking him to act as a mediator between the two opposing sides of the haredi enlistment issue.
“I am turning to you with a personal request to use your influence and position to unit the nation and prevent a serious divide in the Jewish people, God forbid, Yosef wrote in his letter to the president.
Sources within Likud-Beytenu have said that several talks between the party and Yesh Atid about the issue of haredi national service enlistment have been conducted during the past week.
Shas and United Torah Judaism remain opposed to any plan which would set quotas on the number of haredi men able to receive national service exemptions for full-time yeshiva study, but have indicated a degree of flexibility in recent days.
Last week, a UTJ party official told The Jerusalem Post that the proposal for increasing haredi enlistment made by Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon last summer was “something we could live.”
However, it seems unlikely that this plan will be acceptable to Yesh Atid or even to Yisrael Beytenu.
Incoming Yesh Atid MK Ofer Shelah told the Post last week that the party’s plan for bringing about universal national service enlistment for all 18-year old men was “an absolute condition for sitting in government.”