Yishai: I won’t take revenge against settlers

Shas leader says party is reconciled to joining opposition; accuses Bayit Yehudi's Bennett of betraying the haredi community.

March 10, 2013 01:23
2 minute read.
Eli Yishai

Eli Yishai 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Ammar Awad)


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In a lengthy and angry statement on Saturday night, joint Shas leader Eli Yishai said he and his party were reconciled to going into the opposition but accused Bayit Yehudi leader Nafatli Bennett of stabbing the haredi community in the back.

Writing on Facebook, Yishai said that those who had been praying for a government without any haredim were on the verge of success, but that Shas “will go into the opposition with our heads held high.”

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He promised, however, that his party would not take political revenge on Bayit Yehudi or the settler movement, by acting against the settlements, and said that the haredim would be ready and waiting to help when the settlers ask for it.

“The 2013 elections will be remembered as the day on which an entire community, traditional people and haredim, were boycotted simply because of their faith and outlook on life,” the Shas leader said.

Warning that Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid would betray the Bayit Yehudi party and the settler movement and seek to “injure the settlements and the settlers in Judea and Samaria,” Yishai said that Shas would not turn its back on them.

“You, my brothers the settlers,” wrote Yishai, mocking Bennett’s frequent use of the word brothers in reference to the haredim, “will need to knock on our doors and ask for help, [and] we will already be standing up and we will not wait for the call, we were always there and always will be.

“Shas does not intend to turn the sword that was stabbed into our back onto you, despite the behavior of this [person] who pretends to represent you. We will prove to you that we will remain faithful to our outlook and our belief that we are your true brothers,” Yishai pledged.

He added that Shas was not being left out of the coalition because “of a lack of agreement,” but because there was simply a desire to “see the haredim excluded [from government],” possibly alluding to compromises which the party made during coalition negotiations on the issue of increasing haredi enlistment in the army.

Shas was understood to be willing to accept the main parameters of the Kandel Plan for recruiting more haredim into national service programs, drafted by the chairman of the National Economic Council in the Prime Minister’s Office and close aide the prime minister, Prof. Eugene Kandel.

This plan was, however, generally rejected by Yesh Atid and Lapid.

Yishai said that Shas would fight in opposition based on “the right and obligation to represent those whose voices they tried to silence,” and predicted that new elections would be called in less than two years.

“When we stand again in front of the electorate, I know that they will prefer the way of understanding, dialogue and togetherness, instead of boycott, distancing people and radicalism, and the electorate will not lend its hand to the continuation of the path that has been taken in recent weeks to turn us from a society with arguments into a divided society,” he wrote.

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