He also said that the majority of Israelis were in favor of a new and different social agenda, "But the haredi parties firmly oppose it. It is obviously their right, but politicians also need to be prepared to pay the price for their positions sometimes."
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Emphasizing the fact that he "does not hate" the ultra-Orthodox, Lapid said: "We don't disqualify or ostracize anyone. Every Jew is my brother, and I will not succumb to hate speech.
"Moreover, I think that our world would be more meager without Torah study. This doesn't mean they cannot work or enlist in the army, but Torah studies are one of the basic principles of 'Israeliness' and we have no Jewish existence without it."
Lapid and Bennett in the Knesset (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
According to Lapid, "A principle has been determined saying that no matter what the outcome of the elections is, no matter what world view the citizens of Israel chose, the haredi parties must remain in the government."
"Why is that? Did someone change the rules and forget to inform us? What a strange democratic process this is? I don't disqualify people – haredi or not – but there is a difference between people and parties.
"We must embrace the ultra-Orthodox themselves and conduct a true dialogue on the future of this country with them, but the ultra-Orthodox parties are an entirely different story.
"I do not believe that Shas and United Torah Judaism can sit in a government that will make the changes for which we went to elections. The changes in housing, a core curriculum for all, an equal share of social burden, a necessary yeshiva budget cut."
Lapid said that it is his task to return Israeli society's focus to issues like education, aid to small businesses, lowering hosing prices and the cost of living. "In other words, instead of enhancing the power of sectors, we must assist Israel's middle class, which is collapsing as a result of the need to subsidize all the others," said Lapid.
'Bennett will lose war'
Interior Minister Eli Yishai retorted on his Facebook page saying "Lapid never intended to look out for the middle class, students and more.
"He enlisted his writing, presentational and rhetorical abilities for one purpose alone – removing the ultra-Orthodox from the government, and from Israeli society. He has not internalized that we are not a group external to the Israeli population – we are a part of it. Cutting off the haredim has turned into a sacramental principle for him."
Shas leaders Yishai (L) Deri (M) and Atias (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"Lapid's hatred towards us is stronger than Bennett's love for the various parts of Israel and the concern for settlements; otherwise, he would know that the price of his cooperation with Lapid, is a heavy price for the West Bank settlers.
"Once the Lapid 'campaign' to exclude haredim from the government is over, the two's partnership will harm the (national) camp... Bennett may win the battle, but he will lose the war. Habayit Hayehudi has sold its soul, its beliefs and the future of the settlements.
"Bennett has sacrificed the future of the settlements for the sake of hatred towards the haredim... The one thing I've learned in my years in politics is that anyone who wants to promote changes – social, political and ideological – does so through understanding and respect not by decrees and orders.
"Bennett will find that he has paid a heavy price – far too heavy a price – to meet Lapid's whims," Yishai retorted.
Bennett, who also responded on his Facebook page, said that it was Prime Minister Netanyahu himself who ostracized the religious Zionists at the initial stages of the coalitional negotiations.
"We are not banning any party. Not Shas, not United Torah Judaism, not anyone. The Likud is the one shunning Habayit Hayehudi, but that is behind us," said Bennett.
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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