Yishai: No drama in Netanyahu-Yosef meeting

Haredi media reports that PM asked Yosef to enable Shas to support concessions to the Palestinians as a gesture to Barack Obama.

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Rabbi Ovadia Yosef 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai denied reports in the haredi media on Monday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu discussed key future diplomatic developments with the Palestinians in his meeting late Sunday with the party’s mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.
Haredi media reported that Netanyahu asked Yosef to enable Shas to support concessions to the Palestinians as a gesture to US President Barack Obama for his help in preventing the declaration of a Palestinian state at the United Nations.
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The reports said the issue of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard was raised in the context of helping sell concessions to the Palestinians to the Israeli Right. Pollard has always opposed being used as a bargaining chip potentially enabling concessions that could harm Israeli security.
“There was nothing dramatic there,” Yishai said of the closed-door meeting he attended with Netanyahu, Yosef and Construction and Housing Minister Ariel Attias.
Yishai said issues raised included the prisonerexchange deal with Egypt for Ilan Grapel, the return of Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit and the recent Jewish holidays.
Netanyahu normally visits Yosef during Succot, but the meeting was delayed because the prime minister was busy finalizing the Schalit swap.
Yosef asked Netanyahu about Pollard, according to Yishai, and the prime minister said efforts were being made to persuade Obama to commute his sentence to the nearly 26 years he has served.
Yishai expressed pessimism about Pollard returning soon, saying the best-case scenario was that Obama would agree to commute his sentence ahead of the November 2012 US election.
Shas is expected to cause Netanyahu headaches in upcoming months because the party opposes the Trajtenberg Committee recommendations that the prime minister wants to pass in the Knesset’s winter session, which starts next Monday.
Israel Beiteinu head Avigdor Lieberman gave Netanyahu a vote of confidence at a press conference on Monday, reiterating his oft-repeated prediction that Netanyahu would accomplish the rare feat of completing a term as prime minister.
If the next election is not moved up, it will take place on October 22, 2013.