Deputy Knesset Speaker MK Yitzchak Vaknin (Shas) launched a scathing attack on the religious Zionist Jewish Home party on Tuesday, accusing its members of hatred towards hareidim.
Vaknin spoke to Arutz Sheva ahead of Wednesday’s vote on the new draft law which will see hareidi yeshiva students being drafted into the army.
After the next elections, warned Vaknin, Shas will not hesitate to join a coalition headed by the Labor party.
"In politics everything’s possible. I remind everyone that the National Religious Party itself sat in a coalition with Yitzchak Rabin and the Arabs,” he said, adding that Shas views Labor leader MK Yitzchak Herzog as better than Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
“It is the right that has always conceded land, both Bibi and Sharon. Labor never conceded land, it built but did not destroy,” charged Vaknin.
The Jewish Home should not preach to Shas, he continued, since it chose to boycott the hareidim and join a coalition with Yesh Atid.
"Since you disqualified me in order to enter a government with Yair Lapid, do not preach to me today. And I tell you the truth: if possible, we will sit in a government with Herzog and without Bennett,” said Vaknin.
He continued by promising that Shas will safeguard the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as the hesder yeshivas.
"We have never frozen settlements. You have a hatred for the hareidi public,” charged Vaknin, addressing the Jewish Home. “You are sitting now in a government that is negotiating with the Palestinian Authority and may concede territory. Labor never promoted criminal sanctions against yeshiva students, but you sold us out in favor of a shorter service period for hesder students.”
"I can say for myself that I never stopped transferring funds for the settlement enterprise, why are you cutting funds to yeshivas? You’ve taken larger amounts for yourself and cut us down to nothing. I do not hate you, but you hate the hareidi public," he accused.
The new draft law has been a point of contention in Israel, particularly because of the approval of criminal sanctions against hareidim who evade army service.
Hareidi leaders have expressed strong opposition to criminal sanctions for yeshiva students, and pro-enlistment leaders have warned that strong sanctions could create a backlash that would mean fewer hareidi men in the army, not more.
Nevertheless, the Shaked Committee which put together the draft law approved criminal sanctions on hareidim who evade army service. Finance Minister Yair Lapid had threatened to bolt the coalition unless the new draft law includes criminal penalties for hareidi draft evaders.
The hareidi MKs blame the Jewish Home for the new draft law as much as they blame Lapid, since the Jewish Home had formed a pact with Lapid’s party after the elections so the two parties would enter the coalition together or not at all.
Vaknin’s comments also come in the wake of increased tensions not only between hareidim and religious Zionists, but between the coalition and the opposition as a whole.
The opposition announced on Sunday that it would boycott this week’s debates on three controversial laws that it opposes.
In addition to the draft law, the laws in question also include the Governance Bill, which significantly raises the voting threshold, risking several small parties’ ability to enter Knesset; and the National Referendum bill, which would require the government to hold a national referendum before conceding Israeli territory to a foreign entity.
The boycott was in opposition to how coalition MKs were called on to pledge they would vote for the laws, and for the limited timeframe of debates.
The Governance Bill passed its second and third readings on Tuesday, as the opposition held an "alternative debate" in another hall and criticized what they said were undemocratic moves by the government.
As the coalition approved the Governance Bill, Shas Chairman MK Aryeh Deri lavished praise on Herzog and declared his support for the opposition leader for Prime Minister.
"I was asked if Herzog is an appropriate candidate for Prime Minister - and the answer is yes," Deri stated, eliciting applause from the convention of opposition members.