Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempt to already build the next government that he would form after the next election suffered a blow Sunday when he was rejected by Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the spiritual mentor of the Degel Hatorah party that is part of United Torah Judaism.
Netanyahu hoped that UTJ and Shas would promise to recommend to President Reuven Rivlin that he form a coalition after the election.
The prime minister was rejected Saturday night by Shas leader Arye Deri and MK Ya’acov Litzman of UTJ’s Agudat Israel party.
Shteinman, 100, put the final nail in the coffin of Netanyahu’s plan in a meeting with Degel Hatorah MKs Moshe Gafni, Uri Maklev and Ya’acov Asher Sunday.
“We will not sign any document with Netanyahu now,” Gafni told Army Radio. “We will meet with Netanyahu after the election, hopefully when we have more strength and [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid has been weakened.”
Litzman said in an interview with Ynet that “If they want us in the coalition, they will have to turn the clock back on anti-haredi [ultra-Orthodox] legislation.”
Degel Hatorah, Agudat Israel and Shas have been coordinating their strategy regarding political maneuvers. They all decided against joining any alternative governments that could be formed by Labor leader Isaac Herzog or Lapid without an election.
“We will not form a government with Yair Lapid or form a coalition with him,” Gafni said. “We will support the prime minister if he initiates elections. We won’t let anyone else form a different coalition.”
Netanyahu’s associates welcomed the haredi decision not to join efforts to topple him.
They declined to comment about Shas and UTJ rejecting his request to already guarantee that they will back him after the election.