(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas chairman Arye Deri said Saturday night that he would not sit in a left-wing government that included the Arab parties and Yesh Atid but added that he did not rule out Zionist Union leader as prime minister.
Speaking on Channel’s 10 Hamateh show, Deri repeated however that Shas wanted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form the next government.
“We want Bibi and we’ll recommend Bibi [to the President],” said Deri. “We want the Bibi of tradition not the one Bibi who hurt the weaker sectors of society and who took Lapid and Bennett but excluded us,” he continued in reference to the composition of the outgoing government.
The Shas chairman spoke again, as he has done recently, about the historical affinity between Sephardi voters and the Likud party, as well as the long alliance of Likud with the haredi parties, and said he wanted to be part of a Likud-led government in order to “watch over” the government’s attitude to working class Israelis whose cause Deri has championed in the current election campaign.
“I have to look out for the two million people who no-one counts, and who can’t ever start the month [financially],” Deri declared.
He also mentioned the Shas election rally last week that took place on the same day as Netanyahu spoke in Congress attended by some 10,000 people, but warned the prime minister not to forget “the invisible [Israelis] who were with us at the Yad Eliyahu [sports arena].”
Despite Deri’s assertion, the overwhelming majority of attendees at the Shas rally were however young haredi yeshiva students, not working class Israelis.
Asked why he would not join a left-wing government whose economic policies would be seemingly be more in line with Deri’s own political outlook, he said “we will not sit in a left-wing government that includes the Arabs or Lapid.”
Shas and the Ashkenazi haredi party United Torah Judaism fiercely opposed Yesh Atid’s measures to draft haredim into the army and cut welfare and other benefits to the haredi community.
“Yes, I have more in common with the left on social issues than the right, but I can’t sit with the left in light of the attitude to religion and state issues,” he said.
Deri said that if Lapid was not prepare to amend some of the policies and legislation enacted in the last government he could not sit in a government with him.
The Yahad party chairman and former Shas chairman MK Eli Yishai appeared on Channel 2 earlier Saturday night and referenced a video that has allgedly been made in which the former Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef allegedly gave Yishai permission to start a new political movement.
“If you don’t issue lies about me I won’t release the truth about you,” Yishai warned the Shas party.
Deri categorized Yishai’s comments as “extortion by threat,” and denounced him for “recording a great sage of Israel, his own rabbi, while he was fighting for his life in hospital.”