Shas Chairman Aryeh Deri speaks to the press at the ballot.
(photo credit: JEREMY SHARON)
Bayit Yehudi and Shas may enter into some form of power- sharing agreement over the coveted Religious Services Ministry, it emerged on Monday.
The ministry was for a long time under Shas control, and since 1998 has rarely been out of the party’s authority.
Bayit Yehudi took over the ministry, however, in 2013 under the last government, and it was run by Deputy Religious Services Minister Eli Ben-Dahan.
The ministry is a strong source of patronage for religious parties to help place rabbinical allies in various statepaid posts. In addition, the religious services minister has significant control over the various regulations by which institutions such as local religious councils and other bodies operate, and therefore has a strong influence over Jewish life in the country.
A Bayit Yehudi source told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday that retaining control of the ministry is important to the party and important to its core constituency. The party official noted, however, that the party’s reduced Knesset strength means that keeping the ministry under Bayit Yehudi’s auspices may be lower down among the party’s priorities.
At the same time, haredi sources indicated that regaining control of the ministry is of significant importance not only to Shas but to United Torah Judaism as well, and that both haredi parties are coordinating on the issue and on coalition negotiations in general.
The source noted that relations between Ben-Dahan and the two chief rabbis are extremely poor and said that Chief Rabbis Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau would be happy if Ben-Dahan were replaced.
According to the Bayit Yehudi official, there have been discussions with Shas, in which several possibilities have been discussed to share power in the ministry.
This would include some form of agreement where one party would get to fill the position of minister or deputy minister, while the other would appoint the director of the ministry. Another possible clause in the agreement could involve dividing appointments to various posts between Shas and Bayit Yehudi.