(photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced yet another potential coalition crisis Wednesday when Shas threatened his government over controversial statements allegedly made by his spokesman, Ran Baratz.
Baratz allegedly made statements that were seen by MKs in Shas as insulting the late mentor of the party, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who died in October 2013. In the alleged comments, Baratz, who has also gotten in trouble for insulting President Reuven Rivlin and US President Barack Obama, questioned whether Yosef harmed the Sephardi underclass Shas was formed to empower.
“Rabbi Ovadia gave a feeling of respect and belonging to many, but nevertheless, my general opinion of his legacy is very negative,” Baratz allegedly said. “He caused damage, not only to the State of Israel but also by and large to the very people he came to help.”
Shas MK Yigal Guetta, who has become a very close mouthpiece of Shas leader Arye Deri, said Netanyahu cannot get away with “trampling” a loyal coalition partner.
“How did your hands not shake when your appointed a man who spoke about Maran [a title of honor used by Shas supporters for their late mentor] in such a disrespectful manner?” Guetta asked Netanyahu on the Shas MK’s official Facebook page.
“It is shameful. It turns all your nice words of appreciation for Maran into lies.”
Guetta recalled that Yosef had on more than one occasion publicly compared Netanyahu to a blind goat, because people follow him even though he does not know where he is going. He said the countdown to the end of Netanyahu’s government had begun because of the alleged statements made by Baratz and another Netanyahu confidant, Channel 10 chairman of the board, Rami Sadan.
Shas succeeded in getting Sadan’s appointment suspended until the legal process surrounding him had ended.
But the party’s efforts against Sadan hit a setback on Tuesday.
Supreme Court Justice Salim Joubran rejected a request by four Shas deputy mayors to issue an injunction preventing him from receiving the post.
Joubran wrote in his ruling that he had not been persuaded and there was no reason for an injunction.
A final ruling on the Sadan case by the full Supreme Court is not expected for months.