Bennett urges Shas to work with him, not attack him

Bayit Yehudi head calls on Shas to help him to integrate haredim into service; Yishai: We need to join forces.

February 7, 2013 20:14
2 minute read.
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid and Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett at Knesset swear in, Feb 5, 2013.

Lapid and Bennett at Knesset swear in 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)


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Following recent attacks he suffered from Shas, Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett urged the haredi party on Thursday to stop attacking him and instead work with him to integrate haredim into service.

"I represent a very large public, both religious and not, and I cannot accept nor do I understand the meaning of these attacks," Bennett wrote on his Facebook page.

He added that Bayit Yehudi has been working "to find a way to integrate the haredim into the Israeli economy and into service to the State of Israel, without harming the world of Torah."

"I've been meeting with dozens of haredim... and I believe that if we remove the conversation of hatred we could finally solve the problem," he said.

On Thursday morning, the Shas-affiliated newspaper Yom LeYom attacked Bennett in an editorial for siding with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid in promoting equality of service, accusing him of trying to destroy the world of Torah.

An official in the paper said the harsh criticism in the editorial received the approval of the party's spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Army Radio reported.

The editorial said Bennett is "the man with the kipa the size of an eye demonstrates just how much this kipa is worth - half a shekel."

Following the publication of the editorial, Shas leader Eli Yishai called Bennett to apologize for the accusations in the Shas mouthpiece, saying the party leadership did not approve the views expressed in the editorial, the website Kipa reported.

Yishai told reporters he and Bennett agreed to work together. "We need to tighten the relations [between the two parties], we need to join forces," he said.

Bayit Yehudi MK Rabbi Eliahu Ben-Dahan slammed the paper, saying "there isn't a single word of truth" written in the editorial.

"These words constitute slander against God fearing men, who love Israel and the Jewish people, and who can definitely teach Shas a lesson or two about values and about how to combine army service with Torah studying," Ben-Dahan was quoted by Kipa as saying.

Bennett is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the beginning of next week for the first time since the January 22 Knesset elections to discuss the possibility of Bayit Yehudi joining the coalition, according to reports on Israeli media.

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