Photo: Gil Hadani
Minister Atias
Photo: Gil Hadani

Shas: Livni's associates misleading public

Haredi party infuriated by reports that Kadima chairwoman suggested allotting NIS 1 billion in favor of child allowances. 'We weren't offered anything close to that sum,' says Communications Minister Ariel Atias

Communications Minister Ariel Atias on Thursday accused prime minister-designate Tzipi Livni's associates were misleading the public by claiming that Kadima had offered Shas NIS 1 billion (about $257.7 million) as part of the coalition negotiations.


"The offers we were given and the media spin against us do not point to a different kind of politics," Atias said in a closed forum. "Livni's aides are attempting to mislead the public. We were not offered anything close to NIS 1 billion for the (child) allowances."


The reports on the sums Kadima Chairwoman Livni is willing to give Shas in order to meet the party's demands have infuriated the haredi movement's leaders. Atias even accused Livni's people of "being dishonest."


The minister said Thursday that Shas was willing to compromise for NIS 1 billion for the child allowances, but that the offer prepared by Kadima only amounted to NIS 650 million ($168 million), meaning some NIS 300 ($77.5) for the fourth child in each family.


Senior Shas officials said that Kadima had presented a false reality by claiming that the haredi party was offered NIS 1 billion for the child allowances, while only NIS 650 million were allotted for this purpose.


"They created a misleading summation of the funds for the yeshivot and for the allowances," said Minister Atias. "This is a deception of the public, and they have also tried to deceive us. They want to appear as heroes to the public, but this is dishonest.


"They have been pulling us for almost 40 days, with meetings and more meetings, saying more progress has been made and claiming that we are milking them for money. This is a deception. We don't want upgrades and don't want job. All we want is to help the disadvantaged population."


Shas officials continued to claim Thursday that the coalition negotiations "could have been finalized within days."


According to a senior party member, "Every day the people of Israel wake up to another meeting with Shas and to another image that we are milking the Treasury.


"The Kadima people could have ended this immediately, but they prefer to give the feeling that they are handing out millions to make it appear that we are milking them."


Shas officials also clarified that the funds offered for the yeshivot are already part of the coalition agreement.


"We did not ask for money for the yeshivot," Minister Atias told his associates. "We didn't want it and we don’t understand why they are pushing it. We asked them why they were doing this, as it already appears in the coalition agreement."


Meretz head: We'll likely join government

Meanwhile Thursday, Kadima's negotiation team met with Meretz representatives. The meeting was deemed positive and progress was said to have been made on several issues.


Meretz Chairman Chaim Oron said at the end of the meeting, "At the moment the question is not whether Meretz is joining the government but whether the government will be established.


"If the government is established, Meretz will likely be part of it," he added.


The party's demands include the insurance of retirement funds in light of the financial crisis and the allotment of additional funds to day care facilities.


Oron told Ynet on Wednesday that he had received the impression that Livni was interested in adding Meretz to the government. One of Livni's associates said that "there is no reason that Meretz shouldn't be part of the coalition."


פרסום ראשון: 10.23.08, 14:46
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