Right wing parties agreed to PM request to act in unison
Litzman: we’re backing Netanyahu, no way we’ll join govt with Lapid.
By JEREMY SHARON
Ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism agreed to work together as one political bloc with the other parties of the current coalition, during the negotiations for establishing a new government following Tuesday’s election.The two ultra-Orthodox parties said that they made the agreement following a request by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to them and the Yamina party during a meeting of the party leaders on Wednesday afternoon.“Any decisions on such matters” would be taken after coordination with the leading rabbis of the party, said UTJ chairman Yaakov Litzman and senior UTJ MK Moshe Gafni.Earlier on Wednesday, Litzman ruled out sitting in a government with Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid. Litzman has held a grudge against Lapid since he drastically cut welfare benefits and passed a law to draft the ultra-Orthodox into the army during his time in government from 2013-2015.UTJ and Litzman have been careful not to rule out a coalition with Lapid’s fellow party leader Benny Gantz, whom they hope could join a government with Likud and the religious parties.Gantz, however, has ruled out sitting in government with Netanyahu.Advertisement“We are, at the moment, with Netanyahu until the end,” Litzman told Ynet on Wednesday. “If they want to create a unity government, I have no problem with it – without Lapid though. That’s the only thing I’m not willing to do. He harmed us. He shamed us and never apologized. I won’t move at all from this position.”Litzman added that he would sit in the opposition if need be.Shas chairman Arye Deri was more cautious in his pronouncements on which coalition his ultra-Orthodox party might join.“My assumption is that we will be in the coalition,” Deri said. “No one has a majority to dissolve the Knesset, which means we have to create a government. Will it be a small government of 56 with another party? Could it be a broad government? It could be.”The Shas leader rejected demands Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman has made as preconditions for entering the government, including passing laws to legalize civil marriage, allow public transportation on Shabbat, include core subjects in the ultra-Orthodox educational curriculum, and increase haredi enlistment to the IDF. Liberman also wants to repeal a law restricting commercial activity on Shabbat.“Today, no one can make conditions,” Deri said. “I wouldn’t recommend anyone create vetoes from the outset. Anyone with vetoes will stay outside [the government]. The preconditions [of Liberman] are arrogance.”