The Shas - Likud bloc is proving to be stronger than COVID - analysis

“There is no alternative to Bibi,” Shas MK Moshe Abutbul told Radio Tzafon on Tuesday.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas chairman Aryeh Deri.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Supporters of Shas mourned the loss of their mentor, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, on the seventh anniversary of his death Tuesday night.
There were many experts who predicted that day that Shas would die along with its rabbi. They said there was no chance that Shas would follow in the footsteps of Chabad and remain a force without its rabbi.
Shas did not expand by leaps and bounds like Chabad, but it is still going strong, winning the fourth most seats in the last election. Part of its staying power is its bond with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which has outlasted his alliances with Yisrael Beytenu and Yamina.
“There is no alternative to Bibi,” Shas MK Moshe Abutbul told Radio Tzafon on Tuesday. “We won’t sit with [Yesh Atid leader Yair] Lapid or [Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor] Liberman.”
That bond has been proven so strong that Netanyahu’s associates have had a hard time denying reports that Netanyahu and Shas leader Arye Deri have reached a deal on salutary neglect of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) violations of coronavirus restrictions.
Haaretz reported a secret agreement under which the community’s elementary schools would operate unofficially despite the restrictions without suffering consequences. Channel twelve reported on a deal between Netanyahu and the leaders of Shas and United Torah Judaism on tough rhetoric about violations in public but soft handling of enforcement.
Both reports were refuted by all those involved. But the denials appeared to just be part of the same deal.
With the future of his career in jeopardy, Netanyahu needs his only remaining political allies more than ever. Shas and UTJ need him more than ever, too, to keep their schools open, while their secular and religious Zionist cousins continue learning at home.
Deri and UTJ leader Yaakov Litzman also have their own criminal investigations that could end their political careers. That has also helped cement their bond with the perpetually probed prime minister.
As long as all those political realities continue, Netanyahu’s bloc with his haredi allies will apparently remain a higher priority for him than blocking the coronavirus.


Tags Likud Shas