In the lead-up to the elections that were held two weeks ago, Likud / Israel Beytenu portrayed leading Zionist rabbis as backward and dangerous figures. Now it needs them to save it from a political vise it has been placed in by the Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid parties.
Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi of Hevron / Kiryat Arba, was portrayed in Likud's advertisements as a man with backward views, who opined that women should not be appointed as judges. Rabbi Zalman Melamed, Rabbi of Beit El, was also targeted in the ads, as a supporter of refusal of orders by soldiers who are told to evict Jews from their homes.
The ads were intended to convince voters that while Bayit Yehudi head Naftali Bennett seemed like a moderate, his movement was in fact controlled behind the scenes by extremist rabbis.
Now, Likud / Israel Beytenu desperately needs the same rabbis' help, because Bayit Yehudi and the secular Yesh Atid have got it in a vise. Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid appear to have formed a united front that can block Likud from forming a coalition of 61 or more MKs.
Earlier Tuesday, Maariv quoted sources in Likud who said that "already, there is heavy pressure on Bayit Yehudi from the rabbis of the religious Zionist movement, not to be in a common front with Lapid."
"They will not allow it," the sources were quoted as saying. "The rabbis will make the difference… therefore it does not matter what Lapid and Bennett agree upon."