Degel Hatorah touts rabbinic backing for coalition negotiations

Agudath Yisrael: Move is doomed to fail and "makes no political sense."

avraham ravitz 88 (photo credit: )
avraham ravitz 88
(photo credit: )
MK Avraham Ravitz (United Torah Judaism) announced Tuesday evening he had the backing of his party's most senior spiritual leader in his negotiations with the government to enter the coalition. "Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv wished MK Ravitz success in his negotiations with the government," said the press announcement. "[Elyashiv] also denied media reports claiming that Ravitz was conducting the negotiations without the rabbi's backing." Ravitz made the announcement after he and MK Moshe Gafni met with the nonagenarian rabbinic authority. However, a source close to the Agudath Yisrael faction in UTJ rejected the possibility that Ravitz's Degel Hatorah would split from the UTJ, which is composed of Degel and Agudah, to enter Olmert's government. "The move makes no political sense," said the source. "[Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert's government is on the verge of falling apart. Even in the good days before Olmert got sullied by Winograd, it was doubtful that Olmert had the power to force the Finance Ministry to implement the Haredi Education Law. Now there is nothing to talk about." The source said that Elyashiv realized the futility of Ravitz's initiative. "But Rabbi Elyashiv has the beautiful trait of never using coercion. He saw that Ravitz wants with all his heart and soul to do something meaningful before he retires so he won't be the one to disappoint him." Ravitz admitted that Elyashiv had not yet given him a green light to enter the coalition. "He told me to try to finalize a deal with the government first and then come back to him." Ravitz said that he was optimistic that a deal would be reached. "Olmert's people have already agreed. It is just a matter of overcoming bureaucracy in the Justice Ministry." Kadima has an interest in courting Degel Hatorah. If Labor were to leave the government coalition, Olmert would be left with a minority government of 59 MKs. Degel Hatorah's two MKs would give Olmert a majority in the Knesset.