Interior Minister Eli Yishai slammed what he referred to as "continuous incitement against the haredim."
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Yishai said journalist Yair Lapid's popularity (among secular Israelis) has caused ministers from the Likud party to "compete for the most anti-haredi headlines."
"All they are interested in is bashing the haredim, with total disregard for reality," said the Shas chairman," adding "Likud returned to power because of Shas. They are acting against people who believe in G-d."
Yishai called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Opposition leader Tzipi Livni, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to "stop the incitement" and "help those who want to join the workforce."
Yishai made it clear that he has no intention of bringing Netanyahu's government down. "We want to maintain this coalition, but I urge the party leaders to stop the incitement. You are tearing the nation apart. Major changes are taking place within the ultra-Orthodox community. Today there is an academic track for the haredi sector. There is a (haredi) battalion, and we want another one, maybe two, but we were told there is not budget for it."
As for the IDF conversions bill, the interior minister said he would vote in favor of the proposal "if the negotiations on conversions yield results."
Last week, after the IDF conversions bill passed in a preliminary reading in the Knesset, Yishai said Shas would consider leaving the government if the bill is submitted for a first reading.
Yishai did not participate in Sunday's cabinet vote on a plan that would extend yeshiva students' allowances by at least five years. Two other Shas ministers abstained. Cabinet approved the plan.
During a Shas meeting on Monday, Housing Minister Ariel Atias criticized the party's situation amid the controversy over the IDF conversion bill and the extension of allowances for yeshiva students.
"We must do some soul-searching to find out how we've become so hated. We've become more haredi than the haredim," he said.
"Shas is conducting the battles over conversion, exemption from army service, Barzilai Hospital – without one major social struggle to our name. This is our failure," the minister said.
Atias urged the party to address key social issues, such as "young couples, housing and mortgage subsidies. If we'll have to fight Likud on this, we will."
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