Shas ‘willing’ to join Lapid in government

UTJ MKs set to ask rabbinic leadership if the can sit with Lapid too

Shas leader Arye Deri prays at the grave of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on the morning of elections (photo credit: YAAKOV COHEN/MAARIV)
Shas leader Arye Deri prays at the grave of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on the morning of elections
(photo credit: YAAKOV COHEN/MAARIV)
The ultra-Orthodox Shas Party is now willing to join a coalition with long-time bête noire of the ultra-Orthodox parties, Blue and White co-chairman Yair Lapid.
MKs from Shas and United Torah Judaism have consistently stated publicly that they will never join a government with Lapid, given the policies he enacted in the 33rd government including a law to increase ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF, sweeping cuts to the yeshiva budget, efforts to include core curriculum studies in ultra-Orthodox schools, and more.
But Shas MK Moshe Arbel told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that the veto against sitting with Lapid had “never been personal, but rather values-based and ideological.”
The shift in stance comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proposed on Thursday that Blue and White join a national unity government including Likud, Shas, UTJ and Yamina.
According to Arbel, Shas has laid down “foundational principles” for its entry into any government, which include legislation reinstating blanket exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, and legislation that would deny any legal standing or recognition of any Jewish conversions other than the state conversion authority, which runs under the approval of the Chief Rabbinate.
Shas would also insist on the preservation of the status-quo on religion and state affairs, including the ongoing prohibition of public transportation on Shabbat and a refusal to allow civil marriage.
“If Lapid can be flexible on these issues, then we can be flexible on sitting with him,” said Arbel.
When asked if Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Shalom Cohen has been consulted on the move, the MK said the rabbi is “consulted on everything we do.”
Meanwhile, Channel 12 News reported that ultra-Orthodox MKs from Degel Hatorah, the non-hasidic half of UTJ, were set to ask the leading rabbi in the Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox world, Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, whether or not they can join a government with Lapid too.
A spokesman for Degel Hatorah said that the issue of sitting in a government with Lapid “did not come up at all in the meeting between the MKs and the great rabbis.”
A source in Agudat Yisrael, the hasidic half of UTJ, told the Post that its Council of Torah Sages would likely convene next week to discuss the same question.
The requests to sit with Lapid is reportedly not intended by the ultra-Orthodox parties as a move away from Netanyahu and Likud, but rather to allow the possibility of sitting with Blue and White along with the rest of the right-wing religious parties, as Netanyahu proposed on Thursday.
Blue and White leaders Benny Gantz and Lapid insisted today that they want a “liberal, national unity government,” which would seemingly exclude the ultra-Orthodox parties.