Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid is reportedly steadfast in his position against joining a coalition that includes Shas and United Torah Judaism, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi hareidi parties.
According to Channel 10, Lapid said, "I do not even have a dilemma regarding entering a government with Shas."
"If, on the day of the government's swearing-in, I am photographed in the Presidential Residence with a Shas minister standing next to me, I will have ended my political career," he reportedly added.
Arutz Sheva learned Wednesday that Lapid and Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett have agreed to stick together no matter what happens – even if it means that they wind up in the Opposition. The two party leaders noted that combined, their parties total 31 MKs – precisely the number of MKs that Likud / Yisrael Beytenu has. That is why they are negotiating with Netanyahu as a single bloc.
Channel 10 also reported that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu believes Bennett will agree to join his coalition without Lapid, once he realizes that Netanyahu is unable to form a government and that there is a danger that President Shimon Peres will ask Lapid or someone else to form a coalition instead of Netanyahu.
If Bennett is under pressure from within Bayit Yehudi not to side with Lapid against the hareidi parties, he is not showing it. Bennett's pact with Lapid could be real, or he could simply be playing political poker with Netanyahu, forcing Netanyahu to make him a very generous offer in order to get him to join the coalition without Lapid.
The hareidi parties are considered "natural" coalition partners for Netanyahu, since they fit in well with the concept of religious right wing bloc, do not pose a threat to his leadership and do not have serious demands regarding security policy and diplomacy. A coalition with Yesh Atid might involve taking harsh steps to force hareidi men into the military, and this could cause long-term alienation between Likud Beytenu and the hareidi parties.