Yishai, Deri and Atias
Photo: Haim Zach, Yedioth Ahronoth
Shas locks horns with Likud, Netanyahu
Religious party's leaders Yishai, Deri and Atias blast PM over statement saying next government will 'do away with sectoral division'; say Likud is predatory
Right bloc leaders butting heads: Shas leaders Eli Yishai, Aryeh Deri and Ariel Atias issued a joint statement blasting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to reclaim the Housing Portfolio, currently held by Shas, in order to "remove it from sectoral hands."


According to Shas' leaders, "Shas does, indeed, have a sector. But that sector has no religion and no gender – it's the sector of the haves not. The Netanyahu of 2013 wants to be the Netanyahu of 2003, the Netanyahu of decrees and budget cuts," the three said.


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"A strong Likud means a predatory Likud that tramples on those who have nothing. Whoever had qualms in the past, since the union with former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, the Likud is no longer our home – Shas is the real home.


"Only a strong Shas will be able to assure that Netanyahu does not harm the weak and to insure that their voices are heard."


Shas, however, is sending its voters mixed messages, blasting the Likud in an attempt to gnaw at its electorate on one hand, while saying that they do, in fact, favor Netanyahu for prime minister.


Wednesday's statement was the strongest criticism leveled at the prime minister by the religious party and is considered to be a shift in its strategy.


In light of Shas' dismal performance in polls so far, the party has decided to "play dirty" and introduce the sensitive issue of ethnic discrimination within Israeli society into the campaign, in an attempt to solidify the support of Sephardic voters.


"We want all Sephardic voters to vote for Shas," a top party source told Ynet. "We'll present data showing how statistically, Sephardics are discriminated against everywhere in Israel – in academia, in the legal system, in government and in the media."


Shas' campaign will seek to convince voters that "The Likud is no longer your home."



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