Photo: Gil Yohanan
UTJ's Litzman. 'Hurt haredi public'
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Shas' Yishai. Courting Ashkenazim?
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Haredi parties battle over Ashkenazi votes

Shas forms Ashkenazi headquarters in bid to reach out to members of ultra-Orthodox public disappointed with United Torah Judaism's achievements in last Knesset

Less than two weeks before the general elections many in the ultra-Orthodox Ashkenazi public are calling on their sector not to vote for the United Torah Judaism (UTJ) party, which traditionally represents the community.


This stems from the growing disappointment regarding the party's poor political achievements, the internal conflicts between Agudat Yisrael and Degel HaTorah, and the failed struggles over independent education.


The last straw for many voters was the widespread support extended by Gur Hasidim – who are represented in the Knesset by MK Yakov Litzman - to secular candidate Nir Barkat during the recent elections in Jerusalem, support that contributed to haredi candidate Meir Porush's defeat.


With so many haredi voters undecided just 12 days before the elections, the second major haredi party in Israel's political arena, Shas, finds itself in a favorable position.


Shas after UTJ's seats

Shas, also known as the Worldwide Sephardic Association of Torah Keepers, formed an official haredi-Ashkenazi headquarters this week to use the momentum created by this internal strife.


Yehuda, one of the headquarters' founders, told Ynet that they aimed to reach out to some 50-60,000 voters who would not vote for UTJ in the coming elections. "Litzman has hurt the public in an unprecedented way, and there's a price tag for every deed. Shas would get the votes that would have otherwise gone to Litzman," he explained.


According to Yehuda, the aim is to have one or two Knesset seats transferred from UTJ to Shas.


Responding to reports of voters shifting their support to Shas, the UTJ campaign headquarters said: "This refers to only a small number of people, and not to the faction's loyalists. We are working to get to all these people and persuade them that their interests and needs were at stake."


פרסום ראשון: 01.29.09, 13:37
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