Yishai: Netanyahu Prefers Lapid over Us

Shas minister says Yesh Atid party head will say 'no' to any compromise over hareidi enlistment.

Contact Editor
Gil Ronen,

Eli Yishai
Eli Yishai
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Shas minister and co-chairman Eli Yishai believes that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would rather form a coalition with Yesh Atid, which is headed by Yair Lapid, than with hareidi parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ).

"My feeling is that the prime minister prefers Yesh Atid over us," Yishai told IDF Radio Tuesday.

"Lapid himself simply does not want to sit with us [in the government], and no solution for enlistment will satisfy him," he explained. "He will say 'no' to every offer, but he will not say this because he does not want to come across as hating hareidim."

MK Yisrael Eichler of UTJ said that he is not afraid of sitting in the Opposition. "Yair Lapid can declare that his tribe is one and the same as the state, and that the state needs to act against Jewish lawbreakers in Samaria, Arabs and hareidim. But he will not say that he is opposed to Mizrachi Jews because that is not politically correct," he explained.

Religious Zionist Bayit Yehudi appears to be closer than ever to becoming a partner in the next coalition, as do Tzipi Livni's party and Kadima. If this pans out, the big question is whether the other large party in the government, besides Bayit Yehudi, will be the largely secular and left-leaning Yesh Atid, or the hareidi parties, which are usually seen as part of a right wing bloc.

If Yishai's assessment of Netanyahu's wishes is accurate, the party that will decide whether Shas or Yesh Atid sits in the government will likely be the Bayit Yehudi. Thus far, its leaders have shown an apparent preference for working with Yesh Atid, but this could be a tactical move intended to cause Netanyahu to woo the party more vigorously, and to get Shas to apologize for attacks on Bayit Yehudi.