Shas may be offering Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a bear hug, but the other haredi parties are very unhappy with the Likud-Beiteinu alliance and are threatening to shift their support to the Left.
Both Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox newspapers, Hamodia and Yated Ne'eman, who represent the spectrum of United Torah Judaism, ran a nearly identical editorial this weekend, explicitly saying that the haredi party may join forces to form their own bloc in the next coalitional negotiations.
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Both papers accused Netanyahu of hubris: "Netanyahu and his partners are guilty of hubris… (and) if they keep being so dismissive of their partner, the Likud-Beiteinu may find themselves facing blocs they have never seen before, when they come to form their coalition," Hamodia's editorial said.
"Habayit Hayehudi, United Torah Judaism and Shas may come together as a bloc for the sole purpose of negotiating with Netanyahu. This bloc may be bigger than the Likud-Beiteinu. Let's see them tell us then that they will be keeping all the major portfolios."
A united haredi bloc, the paper warned, "Could, for instance, strike a deal with Livni and Yachimovich and crown them prime ministers by rotation. There's nothing wrong with that."
Yated Ne'eman's editorial was nearly identical, saying that "Everything can change because the Likud is guilty of the sin of hubris."
The paper speculated about the possibility of a haredi-Left government, saying that "Such a coalition will not hurt us because it needs us… The level of incitement (against haredim) will also subside – as it always does when the Left-Center rules.
"The Likud doesn’t know how to rule… Let the Likud-Beiteinu sit in the opposition and learn that it does not own the government."
A source in United Torah Judaism told Ynet Sunday that MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett met last week "to discuss matters of policy."
On Saturday, Shas leader Ariel Atias, expressed concern that the Likud may eventually choose to partner with the Left bloc, effectively excluding the religious parties from the government.
"This prospect has to worry anyone who does not want to see the 2003 government model again. A government without Shas will hurt the lower socioeconomic echelons and will promote anti-religious legislation."
Akiva Novick is a Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondent
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