Yishai: I don't celebrate anyone's downfall

Yishai 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Yishai 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Shas Chairman Eli Yishai declined to say Wednesday whether or not he thought Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should remain in office. "I do not celebrate the downfall of any man," said Yishai shortly after Labor Chairman Ehud Barak called on Olmert to step down. "And I do not want to interfere in the internal workings of Kadima." Yishai said that Shas was sticking by its demand to increase child benefits. At the beginning of the week, Yishai told Olmert that Shas would leave the government coalition unless child benefits were increased. Shas's predominantly religious and haredi constituency, which tends to have larger-than-average families, has been hit hard by the deep cuts in child benefits instituted by former finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu under the Ariel Sharon government. Shas spokesman Ro'i Lachminovich said his party had no plans to change loyalties. "We are not changing anything," said Lachminovich. "Our primary concern right now is reversing the cut in child allowances. And we will succeed no matter who is prime minister." A source in Shas said that no one was in any hurry to call new elections. "Politicians dread elections like a turkey dreads Thanksgiving Day," said the source. The source rejected the possibility of a deal between the Likud and Shas."It was Bibi who cut child benefits. How could we ever reach an agreement with him?"