Shas' Yishai joins forces with UTJ
Photo: Gil Yohanan
National Union's Yaakov Katz meets with Netanyahu
Photo: Dudi Vaaknin
Avigdor Lieberman
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Haredi parties join forces against Lieberman

Shas, United Torah Judaism leaders to meet Thursday in bid to form obstructive bloc against Yisrael Beiteinu ahead of coalition talks. Their demands: Maintaining Israel's Jewish identity, guaranteeing budgets for ultra-Orthodox sector

Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism and Shas parties were expected to meet Thursday in a bid to form an obstructive bloc against the Yisrael Beiteinu party ahead of the coalition talks with the Likud.


Together, the two parties have 16 Knesset seats (Shas' 11 and UTJ's five), one more seat than Avigdor Lieberman's party gained in Tuesday's elections.


Shas Chairman Eli Yishai was asked about the issue by Ynet during a faction meeting at the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. He replied, "We are working in cooperation and coordination with the United Torah Judaism party, in a bid to be partners in a stable government based on the basic guidelines which we shared in the past."


Minister Yishai added that the two parties would coordinate their positions in regards to continuing the status quo between secular and religious people, and in terms of their joint demands, including receiving budgets and maintaining the State's Jewish identity.

Shas members during meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)


Yishai said he was also talking to the right-wing National Union party, which has hinted that it plans to join the obstructive bloc.


"We are talking with the faction heads, examining and looking into all options. The people need a stable government and a broad coalition, otherwise the government will be fragile in terms of its ability to function. This will be a fascinating Knesset."


Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday morning with National Union representatives and asked them to recommend that President Shimon Peres task him with forming the new government. The party members said that the meeting was positive and that their faction members and rabbis would make the decision whether to support Netanyahu.


In addition to the National Union's demand not to evacuate settlements and concede parts of the Land of Israel, the party said it would support Netanyahu only if he were to raise the child allowances and the budgets of religious and ultra-Orthodox educational institutions.


"We are not in anyone's pocket and may not recommend anyone to the president," National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz told Ynet before the meeting.


"We went to these elections with a very clear platform, and we are not robots who automatically vote for one candidate or another or recommend him.


"If we have the slightest doubt that as a result of our recommendation Bibi will be sitting in the next government with (Kadima Chairwoman) Tzipi Livni and negotiating Annapolis, another Arab country between the sea and the Jordan River, giving away parts of the Land of Israel and dealing improperly with the outposts, the chances we'll recommend him are close to nothing.


"We will not let our recommendation be used for inappropriate things," he added.


Lieberman: I won't recommend myself

Meanwhile, Avigdor Lieberman refused to tell Ynet which candidate his party would name in their meeting with President Peres, but said it was "unlikely" he would recommend himself.


Lieberman met separately with Livni and Netanyahu on Wednesday, but refrained from announcing his support for either one of them.


"I know more or less what I'm going to tell the president. We decided what we're going to say but not who to recommend," he said. "The negotiation team must form a document which will be handed over to Benjamin Netanyahu and to Tzipi Livni."


The document, he said, would include Yisrael Beiteinu's basic guidelines, and both candidates would be required to accept them in order to receive the party's support.


Knesset Member Stas Misezhnikov, head of Yisrael Beiteinu's negotiation team, plans to meet Thursday evening with Vice Premier Haim Ramon, who represents Kadima's negotiation team.


"The direction is clear," he said. "We more or less know what we'll be talking about with Peres, and he'll be the first to hear from us which candidate we want to see forming the government."


Yisrael Beiteinu has four guidelines it will insist on: Defeating terror and toppling the Hamas government, advancing a citizenship law, state and religion issues, and changing the government system.


Yael Branovsky contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 02.12.09, 14:23
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