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Report: Shas Not in Netanyahu's Pocket

The Shas party may not automatically recommend Netanyahu for Prime Minister and will present a list of 'demands' in exchange for doing so.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 1/22/2013, 1:17 AM

Deri, Yishai and Atias of Shas
Deri, Yishai and Atias of Shas
Flash90

The Shas party may not automatically recommend Binyamin Netanyahu for Prime Minister after Tuesday’s election, Channel 10 News reports.

According to the report, Shas plans to condition its recommendation of Netanyahu to President Shimon Peres by presenting the Prime Minister with a list of "demands" immediately upon publication of the exit polls on Tuesday night.

The report said that Shas's leaders intend to clarify to Netanyahu that they will not automatically recommend his premiership to the President as long as he intends to turn to Yair Lapid and make him a senior partner in the next government.

The intention is to cause Netanyahu to sit down with Shas for negotiations before he meets with any of the other parties. A similar situation took place after the 2009 election, when Yisrael Beytenu head would not automatically say he would recommend Netanyahu.

Shas has long been considered a “natural partner” of the Likud party, and yet tensions have been high between Shas and the joint Likud-Beytenu list during the election campaign.

Netanyahu hinted at one point that the Housing Ministry, held by Shas’s Ariel Atias in the outgoing government, “will no longer be controlled by 'sectorial interests.'"

He added, "The Ministry is not providing equitable service right now, and this cannot continue. In the same way that we reduced the prices on cellphone service, we will reduce the cost of housing.”

Lieberman later said in an interview that Shas would receive the Infrastructures and Tourism portfolios in the next government.

He appeared to relish in provoking Shas, saying that Infrastructures and Tourism were "very nice" portfolios, and that as Tourism Minister, Atias "will be able to travel all over the world."

Aryeh Deri, one of Shas’s leaders, later responded to Lieberman's remarks by saying that "Yisrael Beytenu has carried out a hostile takeover of Likud. From the party of the people, Likud has become an arrogant, smug party that represents Russians and whites."

Last week Deri accused Netanyahu of preferring a coalition with parties from the left rather than with Shas.

“Call me, I will come to your home and we can decide on Shas entering the government,” Deri urged Netanyahu. “The Likud voters should know that Netanyahu prefers a government with the center-left instead of his natural partners. I think that the day after the election Netanyahu will find that we are his natural partner.”

A senior Likud Beytenu official recently hinted that Netanyahu would prefer to form a coalition with Lapid and Yesh Atid (Future) rather than Shas.

Reports said that Likud had sent a message to Lapid which said that "if he gets a number of seats that could compensate for Shas's power, we would prefer to sit with him and not with them."