UTJ and Shas consider joint run for Knesset

Shas sources indicate likelihood of alliance is slim.

Shas leader Aryeh Deri at faction meeting, December 31, 2018 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Shas leader Aryeh Deri at faction meeting, December 31, 2018
Haredi parties United Torah Judaism and Shas are considering running on a joint slate in the upcoming general elections, with United Torah Judaism’s most senior rabbinical figure Rabbi Haim Kanievsky apparently in favor of such a move.
First reported by Hadashot News, several sources in Degel Hatorah, and Shas confirmed to The Jerusalem Post that the idea was being considered.
However, a senior source in Agudat Yisrael said that he was not familiar with the idea, while Agudat Yisrael MK Yisrael Eichler told the haredi Kol Barama haredi radio station that he was also unaware but would welcome a joint list between UTJ and Shas.
According to Hadashot News, Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, the leading rabbi in the non-hassidic haredi community has apparently been approached on the issue and expressed his support.
A Shas source said that there was talk of a joint run, but was skeptical about the possibility it could happen, noting that Shas was against the idea.
Shas has received either four or five seats in polls conducted in recent weeks, this is just above the electoral threshold. It will likely face a challenge for Sephardi haredi voters from former Shas chairman Eli Yishai and his Yahad party.
Should Shas fall below the threshold in the election and be eliminated from the Knesset it would constitute a severe blow to haredi political influence, so a joint run with UTJ might make sense.
UTJ has received seven seats in recent polls, one above its 2015 result of six mandates.
During the 2018 municipal election campaign – when Degel and Agudah were at loggerheads and there was talk of Shas and Degel running together and leaving Agudah out – Shas chairman Aryeh Deri dismissed the idea because he said it would limit Shas’s ability to attract votes from non-haredi sectors.
Deri said at the time that a Shas-Degel political alliance “is not an option” since Shas “draws votes from a broad range of communities,” referring to traditional religious voters who have chosen Shas in the past.