Coalition Chairman MK Ze'ev Elkin (Likud) gave a sober assessment Tuesday of the current tension between Likud and its hareidi coalition partners, and warned of a possible splitting of the "right wing bloc," which has both nationalist and religious elements.
Elkin told Arutz Sheva that it is clear today that the Israeli public refuses to accept the "current reality" – meaning the exemption from military service given to all hareidi Torah scholars. However, he added, "I do not believe that it is right to bring about change while creating a split that is visible to the entire public – and certainly not with the hareidi sector."
Elkin called for "true dialogue" with the hareidi leadership, which will have to accept the changes as a necessary evil, in his opinion.
Elkin added that he does not take lightly the hareidi threats to abandon the partnership with Likud in favor of alternatives. There is a deeper element behind the partnership, he said, which relates to common values. Even if the hareidim are unable to topple the present government, and even if the polls accurately predict what will happen in the elections, and Likud will continue to rule – a rift between Likud and the hareidim will mean a split in the "right wing bloc."
Such a split, he warned, would have wide ranging "lateral" effects on various systems.
However, Elkin added, "I tell MK [Moshe] Gafni [of UTJ] that I understand his complaints against Likud, but what does he suggest? Even if we adopt a bill Gafni likes, it won't pass in the Knesset."
The coalition chairman hinted that talks between Likud and the hareidi MKs are often quite tense, "in spite of the fact that the leftist media tries to paint Netanyahu as the hareidim's lackey." However, he said, Likud is the only element in the coalition still seeking achieve dialogue with the hareidim, while "Kadima and Yisrael Beiteinu are looking to do things by force."