Shas to PM: Will You Preserve Jewish Character of Israel?
As allegations have been hurled at PM Binyamin Netanyahu over the past few weeks by members of his own party and the opposition that his political leanings and stance on key issues pertaining to the Jewish state remain unclear and ambiguous, the Shas party sent a letter to Netanyahu Tuesday morning, asking him to make it definitively clear to his fellow politicians and voters where he stands on issues pertaining to the preservation of the Jewish character of Israel.
Aryeh Deri, Eli Yishai and Ariel Atias wrote in the letter, we are, "calling on you today to outline the Jewish direction your future government will take after the elections."
Shas explained that their request for clarification was twofold. Firstly, Shas was disturbed by Likud's union with Yisrael Beytenu, whom they claim has "opposite values" from Likud. Secondly, Shas explained that a possible left block led by Tzipi Livni and Yair Lapid may change the political landscape of the next government, writing, "Such a coalition, if formed, will change the face of the country from a social and Jewish point of view, similar to the Likud-Lapid coalition which was formed in 2003 in which you were a senior partner."
According to the letter the pledge is, "based on Jewish tradition that is fundamental to the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state," and consists of four main principles - maintaining the status quo in terms of religion and state, preventing legislation that contradicts Jewish law, not allowing civil marriage laws which would permit the intermarriage of Jews with non-Jews and preventing the operation of public transportation on Shabbat.
Shas leaders conclude their letter by writing, "We are launching this pledge to you to sign off on the values to which you have committed up to now, as Likud supporters and all of Israel will now know on which path you intend to lead us, that a country without a soul cannot exist. "
Shas released a joint statement Tuesday clarifying the reason for sending the letter to Netanyahu, writing, "Political developments in recent months have left us confused. Where does Likud-Beytenu stand at this point from a Jewish perspective? As a party who has declared in advance that we would support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the next government, we are more concerned than anyone. The destructive social and religious programs that the Likud-Lapid government of 2003 brought the State of Israel has not been forgotten to this day…Therefore we demand that the Prime Minister clarify his position before the elections on issues that affect the soul of the Jewish people."