The Sephardic hareidi Shas party is beginning to realize that it will not be a part of Binyamin Netanyahu's third government, according to a report in Yisrael Hayom.
Netanyahu met Shas's three co-chairmen – Ariel Atias, Aryeh Deri and Eli Yishai – for about 30 minutes Sunday, before meeting Bayit Yehudi's Naftali Bennett.
He reportedly told them that while he is interested in seeing them in his coalition, the political situation, including Labor Chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich's refusal to join the government, makes this impossible. He promised to continue to try and bring Shas into the government "until the last minute," according to the report.
A senior source in Shas told Yisrael Hayom: "The matter seems to be over. We are headed for the Opposition. The prime minister said that he would try to make the most of various possibilities, including with the Labor party, but at this moment it seems hopeless. Netanyahu is being held captive by two actors who are leading him by the nose."
A source in the party warned that the government will not be a friendly one to Judea and Samaria, which is seen as Bayit Yehudi's power base: "We hope that Bayit Yehudi will not be surprised when the support for all matters connected with the settlements suffers a setback, or when all sorts of freezes pop up. When you place your trust on Tzipi Livni and Yael German, this will have implications," he said.
A number of senior officials in Shas attacked Prime Minister Netanyahu Monday morning, over the shape of the new government. The officials told Israel Defense Forces Radio, "We will go into opposition with heads held high and we will not let the government rest. We will see to it that funding goes to the needy and not the hilltop youth of Bennett," referring to residents of Jewish hilltop communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron).
At the same time, other senior party officials claimed they did not intend to harm the Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria but warned that distancing Shas from the coalition would hurt the communities indirectly.