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Study: Hareidi Parties Do Not 'Extort' Governments

A study said that accusations against hareidi parties that they “blackmailed” the government for funds and positions was not true
By David Lev
First Publish: 2/7/2013, 3:00 PM

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

A study published by economic newspaper The Marker, Thursday said that accusations against hareidi parties that they “blackmailed” the government for funds and positions was not true. The study, which correlated the historic size of parties in all of Israel's governments with their political achievements, indicated that hareidi parties were no more voracious of political gain than other parties – and in some cases were even less so.

Hareidi parties, including Shas and United Torah Jewry, have often been “kingmakers” in Israeli politics, helping to make or break a government. Often, prime ministers will try to recruit them at the end of their coalition formation discussions, ensuring that they pass the critical number of 61 MKs to form a government. The hareidi parties have a reputation in Israeli politics for taking advantage of this situation, “milking” the situation in order to get political appointments or funding for their projects and institutions.

But that perception is just incorrect, said the study. Historically, hareidi parties have not gotten more political appointments than others, relative to their size, and they have also not received specific funding for institutions as part of their coalition agreements. In fact, historically, the “least extortioning” party was UTJ, which in the 15th Knesset received significantly less than it was “worth” in terms of mandates it brought to the coalition.

“It appears that there is no basis for the complaints that certain kinds of parties are able to receive extra benefits than other parties do,” the study said. “Sectorial parties in Israel do not appear to have the power to translate their Knesset seats into political achievements, especially in therms of desirable political appointments.”