The Ashkenazi haredi UTJ political party is reportedly considering supporting a settlement freeze, the evacuation of unauthorized settlement outposts, and reopening peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new coalition government with left leaning and centrist parties, including Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua Party and even a party as far to the left as Meretz while keeping the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi party out of the new government.
Haredim Threaten To Support Settlement Freeze, Peace Negotiations With Palestinians – Unless Non-Haredi Right Wing Parties Find A Way To Exclude Haredim From The Draft
Shmarya Rosenberg • Failedmessiah.com
The Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism political party is debating whether it should support an aggressive, left-leaning peace agenda, the Jerusalem Post reports.
The Post writes that UTJ’s potential move to the left is probably a “ploy” to pressure the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi party and its leader Naftali Bennett into “scaling back its rhetoric on the issue of haredi enlistment.”
A UTJ official whose name was not printed by the Post told the paper that UTJ is considering supporting a settlement freeze, the evacuation of unauthorized settlement outposts, and reopening peace negotiations with the Palestinians. This would allow Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new coalition government with left leaning and centrist parties, including Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua Party and even a party as far to the left as Meretz while keeping HaBayit HaYehudi out of the government.
The UTJ official also told the Post that keeping military service exemptions for haredi yeshiva students was the single most important issue on UTJ’s agenda, and that UTJ would compromise on other issues in order to achieve that.
“The haredi public thinks that Bennett has gone to war against them. We want to remind him that Netanyahu can build a coalition without HaBayit HaYehudi and remind the national religious community that Bennett ran a campaign on strengthening the national bloc and the settlements, not on forming agreements with [Yair Lapid’s centrist] Yesh Atid [party, which has as its primary plank equalizing the defense burden – i.e., drafting haredim],” the UTJ official reportedly said.
17% of West Bank voters voted for UTJ in the last national election held on January 22. 10% of West Bank voters voted for the Sefardi haredi Shas Party.
The two largest West Bank cities are Modin Illit and Beitar Illit. Both are haredi cities and a majority of voters in each city cast their ballots for UTJ on January 22.
UTJ got an estimated 25,108 votes from the West Bank last month – meaning that almost 1 of the party’s 7 seven Knesset seats was won with West Bank votes.
Approximately a third of haredim now live in the West bank.
On Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly sharply criticized Yesh Atid’s Lapid and HaBayit HaYehudi’s Bennett and what he reportedly called their anti-haredi "conspiracy."
Speaking to Likud-Beiteinu ministers, Netanyahu said that “their strategy is not to reach solutions on key issues, only to push out the haredi parties.”
The Likud-Beiteinu ministers quoted Netanyahu as saying that Lapid and Bennett cared only about their own political careers rather than caring for the good of the country as a whole. He also reportedly mocked Lapid's plan for equalizing the burden of IDF service by drafting haredim, saying that “it will not bring equality nor ease anyone's burden.”
The Post reports that sources close to Netanyahu went even further, claiming that Lapid and Bennett were trying to break the 36-year-old bond between Likud and the haredi parties so Netanyahu will not be prime minister again.
Netanyahu has only been able to stay in power by winning the support of haredi political parties, mostly by overlooking haredi violations of law; by failing to enforce High Court of Justice rulings that do not favor haredim; and by diverting large amounts of money to haredi yeshivas, housing and other haredi projects.
Netanyahu is widely regarded in Israeli political circles as a shrewd, craven self-serving man who has no loyalty to anyone but himself. As a result, he is intensely disliked by many politicians – even by many members of his own Likud Party.