(photo credit: YAAKOV COHEN)
The leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism rejected overtures from Likud officials Tuesday who wanted them to join Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition.
Netanyahu was forced to give up his long-standing political bond with the haredi (ultra-Orthodox) parties when Yesh Atid and Bayit Yehudi insisted they be left out of the coalition.
But Likud officials hoped that due to the ongoing security situation, Shas and UTJ could enter the coalition without angering Likud’s current partners.
Officials in Shas and UTJ confirmed that overtures had come from Likud.
But UTJ chairman Ya’acov Litzman said there was little to no chance of his party entering the coalition and Shas leader Arye Deri was even more pessimistic.
“There is no need now for such a thing,” Deri said. “At this stage such talk is worthless. There is no such proposal. We are not joining the government.”
Nevertheless, Deri praised Netanyahu for his handling of the security situation and offered his party’s support from outside the government.
“At times like these, there is no coalition or opposition,” Deri said.
Likud MK Gila Gamliel went further, urging not only Shas and UTJ but also Labor and the two-man Kadima faction to join the coalition. She said Israel needed as wide a national- unity government as possible to unify the people.
“They should join the decision- makers to help us succeed in ending our problems with terror,” she said. “Reality requires it and this is the time for it.”
Labor officials reiterated in response that their party leader, opposition leader Isaac Herzog, would support Netanyahu’s efforts to stop rocket attacks from outside the coalition and would work to replace him in the future as prime minister.