Shas sages considering leaving coalition

Council of Torah Sages to discuss leaving gov't after demand to raise child allowances was rejected.

ovadia yosef emphasizing (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
ovadia yosef emphasizing
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas's Council of Torah Sages is expected to steer Shas out of the government coalition next week, after the Sephardi haredi party's demand to raise child allowances was rejected. The council is slated to convene at an as-yet-undetermined date next week to decide whether or not to remain in the coalition. Shas chairman Eli Yishai said he supported early elections regardless of the new revelations regarding Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's purported misconduct. "I don't see the option of an alternative government that could be formed," Yishai said. "I prefer advancing the election." Yishai's associates said he would recommend that the council endorse early elections, but not leaving the government yet. When it is clear what is happening in Kadima and other parties, he will convene the council again to determine the fate of Shas and the coalition. Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On rejected a demand by Shas to substantially raise the amount of financial support families receive for each child. And Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Shas's spiritual mentor, had already said that if Shas's demand was not met the party would pull out of the coalition. Large Jewish families, which make up a substantial part of Shas's traditional, religious constituency, would have been the main benefactors of the child allowance hike. Arab Israelis, who also have larger than average families, would have benefited as well. Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.