'Elyashiv digging in over civil unions'

Haredi party reps deny Degel Hatorah mentor blocking any compromise on civil union issue.

rabbi elyashiv 248 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
rabbi elyashiv 248 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hours before Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu's coalition negotiations were to resume, haredi party representatives late Saturday night denied any knowledge that Degel Hatorah mentor Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv had expressed opposition to any compromise on the issue of civil unions. Rumors circulated during the weekend that Elyashiv had put the kibosh on a solution suggested by Shas - according to which Israel would allow civil marriages between Israeli non-Jews - a move that could make coalition efforts even more difficult for the Likud head, who is still struggling to reach a consensus among would-be members of his government. MK Moshe Gafni, chairman of United Torah Judaism, of which Degel Hatorah is a component, told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night that he was not familiar with a statement of this type by Elyashiv, and that this certainly was not what Elyashiv had led him to believe. Gafni did, however, emphasize that his party was still involved in active negotiations with the Likud team, led by MK Gideon Sa'ar, to try and reach a workable coalition agreement. Gafni's comments came after reports emerged on Friday, according to which Elyashiv said that United Torah Judaism could not allow changes to the status quo on civil unions. Last week, the Likud accepted demands by Israel Beiteinu to find a solution for couples seeking unions without religious ceremonies. Israel Beiteinu is considered to be a key coalition partner for Netanyahu. Israel Beiteinu reiterated Saturday night that it would stand by its guns on the issue, which is one of the major planks of its platform. The party's support base includes many Russian immigrants who do not want religious marriages. "We are in the midst of negotiations and this is a major clause for us," said one senior Israel Beiteinu official. "We're not talking about giving up and we are going to keep acting in line with our platform and our beliefs."