(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Senior haredi MK Moshe Gafni of the United Torah Judaism party has said that his party has not ruled out backing Labor party leader Isaac Herzog and will only a make a final decision after the elections.
Ganfi’s comments got him in trouble however, with UTJ sources saying the MK does not speak for the party and that it was committed to backing a center-right government under current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“We will only decide who to support after the elections. We’re not ruling out anyone,” said Gafni in an interview with Channel 1 on Tuesday. “Bennett, Lapid and Netanyahu are responsible for economic and social failings,” he added.
Gafni’s colleague MK Yaakov Litzman made similar comments in an interview with The Jerusalem Post
last week, saying that UTJ would evaluate which camp, left or right, would be closer to the party’s demands, and then make a decision.
The party’s decision not to explicitly back a center-right government could however displease parts of its electorate which is generally thought to be oriented to the right wing in security and diplomatic issues.
The emergence of the new Yahad party led by former Shas chairman and haredi MK Eli Yishai and which has united with the hard-right Otzma Yehudit party could be one possible alternative for haredi voters wishing to ensure their vote supports the center-right political bloc.
A senior Chabad rabbi said last month that there was as yet no instructions to members f the Chabad hassidic movement to vote for UTJ because of the party’s failure to commit to a right-wing government.
Following Gafni’s comments, UTJ party officials and activists expressed displeasure with the senior MK’s comments haredi media outlets reported.
One senior official said to the B’Hadrei Haredim website said that Gafni was “burning and distancing” potential voters from voting for UTJ.
“But he still chooses time and again to come out with statements of support for the left which will only do damage to the haredi community. Gafni has apparently decided to burn burn the seventh and eighth Knesset seats no matter what,” the official said in reference to UTJ’s seven current MKs and the several polls which have showed the party taking eight seats in the coming election.