Hendel: 'I was threatened over kosher cellphone reform'

"Every decision has a political price. But it is unacceptable that ministers reach their positions and then only deal with survival instead of making decisions for public benefit," Hendel said.

 Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel at a conference with supporters in Shoham on July 12, 2022.  (photo credit: Jonathan Shaul/Flash90)
Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel at a conference with supporters in Shoham on July 12, 2022.
(photo credit: Jonathan Shaul/Flash90)

Communications Minister Yoaz Hendel told supporters at a conference in Shoham on Tuesday evening that he was threatened by a representative of former UTJ MK Ya’acov Litzman, who said if he pushed through “kosher cellphone” reform, he would be “politically burnt.”

“A man came to me on behalf of Litzman, and clarified to me that if I touch the topic of cellphones in the haredi sector, I will be erased. The man said, ‘You will be burnt politically,’” Hendel recalled.

Hendel did not heed the warning and passed the reform in question, which broke the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinic Committee for Communications’ control over the kosher cellphone market. So-called “kosher cellphones” do not allow access to the Internet

“I needed to decide whether to take a political risk or to ignore the issue, like my predecessors did,” Hendel continued. “I decided that I am deciding [what is best] for Israel’s haredi citizens, even though I know they are not my electorate.”

Hendel was left out of the merger between the Blue and White and New Hope parties that was announced Sunday evening. One of the reasons was that Gantz and Sa’ar do not want to rule out the possibility of the haredi parties joining a future coalition. The parties would be far less likely to do so with Hendel on board due to their animosity toward him.

Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel attends a discussion at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on June 15, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)Israeli minister of Communications Yoaz Hendel attends a discussion at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament in Jerusalem on June 15, 2022. (credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

“The haredi political operators work for themselves. [They] raise prices and limit the public. They turn a blind eye toward discrimination against Sephardi girls in Ashkenazi institutions. These operators are the opponents of the haredi public, not me,” Hendel said.

“Every decision has a political price. But it is unacceptable that ministers reach their positions and then only deal with survival instead of making decisions for public benefit,” he said.

Hendel is in talks with Yamina leader and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked about joining her party. Hendel wants to cut a deal for himself and his political ally MK Zvika Hauser as soon as possible. Shaked, however, is in no hurry and will wait for the results of an in-depth poll she ordered before making a decision, a source in Yamina said.