The hareidi parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, may work together to form a “blocking bloc” to Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, it was reported on Friday.
With his 19 seats and being the largest party in the new Knesset, Lapid is expected to be a major partner in Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s new coalition. However, he faces difficulty with the hareidi parties, historically the “natural coalition partners” of the Likud.
Lapid advocates passing a law that will see yeshiva students being drafted into the army, a fact which the hareidi parties oppose.
"Yesh Atid may have received 19 seats, but United Torah Judaism and Shas together won 18," United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni said in an interview with Army Radio on Friday morning.
“We're going together with Shas on fundamental issues: the issue of the status quo, on religious matters and on drafting yeshiva students. You cannot impose different lifestyles on each other. Therefore, I believe that in the end logic will prevail,” added Gafni.
On issues of drafting hareidim, Lapid may have an easier time if the hareidi parties are kept out of the coalition and only Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) led by Naftali Bennett is included. Such a coalition, however, might make it difficult for Netanyahu to get along with U.S. President Barack Obama, because of Bennett’s hard line on Judea and Samaria.
On Thursday, Netanyahu called the heads of Shas and United Torah Judaism, as well as Lapid. By early Thursday afternoon, he had already met with Lapid.
Netanyahu also saved his phone call to Bennett for last. The delay is widely seen as significant, since the order in which negotiations take place with parties determines which party will join the coalition first, and receive the "juiciest" portfolios, and which is "left out to dry."
Netanyahu also called Labor leader Shelly Yechimovich and invited her for a meeting to discuss her party joining the coalition. Yechimovich, while saying she would meet with the Prime Minister, ruled out the possibility of joining the coalition due to the fundamental differences in social issues between the two.
The Prime Minister also has the option of forming a coalition with Bayit Yehudi and the hareidi parties alone, without Yesh Atid. Such a coalition would give him a narrow majority but would look to be "too extremist" to the world.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)