Daily Israel Report

Orbach: Dispute with Yesh Atid a ‘Passing Storm’

Orbach on Jewish Home-Yesh Atid fighting, standing up to Obama, and an intermediate agreement.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 12/10/2013, 7:55 PM

Uri Orbach
Uri Orbach
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The disagreements between the Jewish Home and Yesh Atid parties were in the headlines again Tuesday as Yesh Atid decided to prevent the transfer of funding to Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (Shomron). In response Jewish Home MK Nissan Slomiansky, who heads the Finance Committee, threatened to withhold funding from Taglit (Birthright) and Masa programs.

The two parties have previously gone head-to-head on multiple issues, including civil marriage, gay marriage and yeshiva funding.

In an interview Tuesday with Arutz Sheva, Jewish Home minister Uri Orbach said that he is not particularly concerned by the conflict, which he referred to as a “passing storm.”

The two parties have their ups and downs, he said, but maintain a steady dialogue that allows them to work together in the government. Some of the disagreements between the parties will not be solved, he noted.

However, he said, “We want this partnership.” He expressed doubt that Jewish Home would be replaced by Shas or the Labor party, noting that Shas disagrees with Yesh Atid on civil issues as well, and that, “I don’t see the Likud creating a government with no religious representation.”

Overall, he said, “We aren’t thinking of the ways to get us out of government and bring in the Labor party or the hareidi parties, just like we aren’t thinking of getting out Yair Lapid and his gang. The government needs stability.”

“We can fight later,” he joked, “It doesn’t have to be in the first year.”

Intermediate agreement option 'worrying'
Disputes regarding Israel’s negotiations with the Palestinian Authority are likely to continue as talks progress, he said. Orbach warned against putting too much emphasis on the Jewish Home-Yesh Atid conflict, however.

“The Likud is in the government, too,” he noted wryly. “Everyone is so busy with the fight between Jewish Home and Yesh Atid, but the Likud is also in the picture. The Likud will need to bring the results of negotiations for debate, to put it on the table.”

“We have influence, and we’re trying to exert that influence now, before getting [negotiations] results we find unsuitable,” he added.
 
Orbach expressed some concern over the possibility of a temporary “intermediate” arrangement between Israel and the PA. “I don’t believe there’s any law requiring a national referendum over an intermediate agreement… It’s worrying,” he said.

Orbach said he does not think an intermediate agreement is likely, but added, “The government isn’t sharing enough information to allow me to say so decisively – and yes, that statement could be taken as criticism.”

Principles more important than U.S. opinion
When asked if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will be able to openly disagree with the Obama administration over the concessions it has sought to the PA, after disagreeing on the Iranian issue as well, Orbach said, “It’s all tactics… He has to stand up for the security of Israel’s citizens, and for Israel’s sovereignty in the land of Israel, and that’s more important than the tactics of how to manage things vis-à-vis America."

“Of course we want to maintain good ties, but that’s not a reason to concede our fundamental principles,” he added.