Member of Knesset Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, the head of the Agudath Israel hasidic faction of the haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), said today that both haredi parties, UTJ and the Sefardi haredi Shas Party, will recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu form the next government after new snap elections – but only if Netanyahu gives the haredim what they want.
Above: MK Rabbi Yaakov Litzman
Haredim Reportedly Agree To Back Netanyahu For PM After Next Election
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Member of Knesset Rabbi Yaakov Litzman, the head of the Agudath Israel hasidic faction of the haredi United Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), said today that both haredi parties, UTJ and the Sefardi haredi Shas Party, will recommend that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu form the next government after new snap elections, but only if Netanyahu gives the haredim what they want – something that appears to be a done deal.
According to a report in the Times of Israel, Litzman told Army Radio that he is obligated to “make every effort to topple the current government” because it cut various welfare benefits to haredim that allowed the haredi community to choose to study in yeshivas well into middle age without working or serving in the IDF. The current government also cut yeshiva funding, made it easier to convert to Judaism by removing conversion from exclusive haredi control, and is trying to get haredim to join the IDF – all things Litzman mentioned as objectionable and as reasons to bring down the current government.
“It’s clear to everyone that at the end of 2015 they’ll need to pay the price for all these economic failures. I don’t think it’s likely that we’ll join the [current] coalition,” Litzman reportedly said.
Netanyahu is reportedly planning to dissolve the current coalition government and hold snap elections – but only if the haredi parties commit to backing him to head the new government to be formed after that snap election.
After each election, leaders of all political parties with seats in the Knesset submit recommendations for a party to lead the new government. The leader of the party that garners the most recommendations is invited by the president of Israel to form a coalition government. If that party leader cobbles together a coalition of at least 61 of the 120 Knesset seats, he or she becomes prime minister.
Netanyahu’s Likud Party’s only natural allies are the two haredi parties, and Netanyahu has repeatedly skirted or simply ignored High Court of Justice rulings, lower court rulings and the will of the majority of his coalition in order to favor them. He has also tried to bring the two haredi parties into his current coalition and force out Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s the largely secular centrist Yesh Atid Party and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s centrist Hatnuah Party.
Livni said again today that supports going to early elections to block the controversial “Jewish state” bill which many consider to be racist and undemocratic. The bill is backed by the right-wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party and Netanyahu’s Likud Party. Lapid also strongly opposes the bill, as do opposition lawmakers, Israel’s attorney general, its president and wide range of legal and human rights scholars.
Netanyahu vowed to pass the bill anyway.
Many people believe that Netanyahu – who is widely viewed as manipulative and dishonest – is using the controversial bill to destroy his current coalition so that he can call elections and make it appear as if doing so is the fault of Livni and Lapid, who are both strongly disliked by haredim. That, Netanyahu is thought to believe, along with guarantees of money, would give him the support of both haredi parties and the edge he needs to hold snap elections and continue to be prime minister – but without the check and balance of Lapid, his party and Livni and her party.
That version of the bill is scheduled to come to its first of three Knesset vote Wednesday.
Speaking to Army Radio, Livni reportedly said that she and Lapid would block the bill as it is now written no matter what Netanyahu does. She said the current version of the bill as written by senior Likud member Ze’ev Elkin is “anti-Jewish, anti-democratic and anti-Zionist.” It relegates Israel’s Declaration of Independence “to the garbage can,” Livni said.
“It’s no secret that this [current] government [coalition] wasn’t Netanyahu’s first choice,” Livni continued. “[The large number of seats won by] Yesh Atid [– a party hated by haredim –]forced [Netanyahu to include [his rival, the right-wing Zionist Orthodox] HaBayit HaYehudi Party in the government, and the result is that all of Israel [now] pays the price.”