Shas and United Torah Judaism would be willing to enter Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's governing coalition if Finance Minister Yair Lapid removes his Yesh Atid party over socioeconomic disputes, UTJ MK Moshe Gafni said Wednesday.
Lapid has issued threats over the past two weeks to quit the coalition if taxes are raised, if he does not get his way on the 2015 state budget, or if his 0% VAT housing plan does not pass into law. Gafni discussed the threats when he met on Monday with Netanyahu, who has preferred having haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties in his coalitions throughout his political career.
"[The prime minister] does not want to go to elections," Gafni told Army Radio. "It is very reasonable to assume that if Lapid leaves because of the [housing] issue, [Netanyahu] has an alternative. The haredim can come in. We are a million times cheaper than him. We are more loyal, as the prime minister has said."
Gafni blasted Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman for telling diplomatic reporters Sunday that he opposes replacing Yesh Atid in the coalition with UTJ and Shas. Liberman claimed that the haredi parties entering the coalition would immediately cost NIS 3.5 billion in increased payments to yeshivot and the National Insurance Institute.
"It's unprecedented chutzpah, and it is fitting for [Liberman] because he doesn't care about the country, only about his internal politics," Gafni said. "We cost less than all those parties that threaten all the time to leave the coalition. What Liberman said is unfriendly, unfair, a lie, untrue. He should not have said it, even if he wanted to gain politically from it, and he didn't even gain. He is going down in the polls."