Likud denies child allowance promise to Shas

The Likud Wednesday denied claims by Shas that party chairman Binyamin Netanyahu had promised to reverse cuts in child allowances. In an interview Tuesday night on the haredi Radio Kol Chai, Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said that Netanyahu promised to increase child allotments. "Netanyahu promised us on the issue of child allotments - not that I believe him," said Yishai. "But we prefer him to Tzipi Livni, who already refused to give in on the allowances." Meanwhile, Communications Minister Ariel Atias said Wednesday that without a concession on child allowances, Shas would not join a coalition with Likud. "We will not compromise on our principles, which include child allotments, a united Jerusalem and maintaining the religious status quo, including no civil marriages," he said. Atias said a failure to reach an agreement with Kadima leader Livni on the issue of child allowances resulted in Livni's failure to put together a government coalition, which led to early elections. "Livni could have been prime minister, but she erred in her judgment. And I think she still regrets what she did." The Likud vigorously denied that Netanyahu had made such a commitment. Netanyahu told reporters on a tour of Jerusalem's Mahaneh Yehuda market that the Likud would help the poor in a different manner. But Kadima and Meretz released statements blasting Netanyahu and Shas for what Meretz called "purchasing power with money." Meretz accused Netanyahu of "irresponsibly promising billions in taxpayer funds." Kadima said that Yishai had revealed that Netanyahu was lying when he said that he had not made a deal with Shas prior to the fall of the outgoing government.