Shas sure Mofaz, Livni will give in on child allowances

Yishai: "We are acting to achieve what is right for the people of Israel, and most important, we have God's help."

yishai looks up 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
yishai looks up 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Whoever wins the September 17 Kadima primary will give Shas the raise in child welfare allowances that the party has been seeking, sources close to party leaders Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias said confidently on Thursday. Shas's 12 MKs would be necessary for the new Kadima leader to form a government and avoid initiating a general election. If a new government is not formed, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert would remain in his position until a general election is held, despite his promise to resign after the primary, as announced in Wednesday's press conference. Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, who is one of the front-runners in the race, has told senior Shas officials that he would be willing to raise the child welfare benefits, despite their steep cost to the Treasury. Shas officials said they expected the other leading candidate in the race, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, to also grant their request, especially if she sees after her primary victory that she is trailing Likud chairman Binyamin Netanyahu in the polls. The only candidate certain to not cave into Shas is Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit, who has been a vocal critic and nemesis of the party for many years. Sheetrit said he believed a general election should be initiated immediately so Shas and other parties would not engage in political extortion. Yishai said that in the winter session of the Knesset his faction received nearly everything it desired, because "we are more determined, we are acting to achieve what is right for the people of Israel, and most important, we have God's help." Atias told Israel Radio on Thursday that he would have no problem with a new government being formed. Yishai, however is more inclined to initiate an election due to pressure from the Right to allow Netanyahu to return to the Prime Minister's Office. Yishai also wants the next election to take place while his party's mentor Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is still in good health and before Atias could present a challenge to his leadership. Atias warned Olmert in the radio interview not to make any diplomatic concessions before a new Kadima leader is elected. He called upon Olmert to freeze diplomatic contacts with the Palestinians and Syrians. "The leaders of the region understand that the prime minister is only there temporarily," Atias said. "He cannot make decisions on the diplomatic front that would obligate the next government. We cannot tell our neighbors that we cannot talk to them, but we should make clear that they have to wait due to our political situation."