Yesh Atid Sees Haredi Rollback on Policies

Spokesman Yair Zavid says what Shas and UTJ want would cripple Haredi sector.

Gedalyah Reback, | updated: 15:31

Hareidi MKs
Hareidi MKs
Flash 90

Yesh Atid is looking at the opposition right now as Binyamin Netanyahu looks to build a nationalist coalition with a much stronger Likud as its anchor. The biggest question of supporters for Yesh Atid is how the haredi parties will influence the coalition that is formed.

Yesh Atid carried a resounding 19 seats in the last election, which in theory anchored a 21-seat centrist "bloc" with the weakened Kadima. Kadima is now out of the picture, but its representation of centrists has been split with Kulanu (11 and 10 seats respectively).

Yesh Atid's former partnership with Naftali Bennett on haredi enlistment and integration collapsed over a number of other issues, but Yesh Atid party spokesman Yair Zidan says that even though that wasn't the subject of the split that Jewish Home might be willing to let some of those achievements go for the sake of building a haredi-inclusive coalition greatly worries his party.

"We're definitely worried that there's going to be a fire sale of all the achievements we made in the last government on matters of religion and state, haredi integration and haredi education. We think it would be terrible for the haredi community and the State of Israel as a whole if those provisions on the core curriculum like teaching mathematics in haredi schools were rolled back."

Assuming that the party found itself in the opposition, Zidan said, "We will do our best to reach across the aisle and continue working with whomever we can to advance the issues most important to us."

When asked if he felt Yesh Atid was disappointed in its showing, he emphasizes that "Yesh Atid set out to run a positive campaign from the get-go and we did that. We ran a positive campaign and I think a good campaign that we can all be proud of."

Although it seems likely to many observers that Yair Lapid will be in the opposition, Arutz Sheva asked Mr. Zidan if Netanyahu's ultimate rejection of a Two State Solution might actually dovetail with the emerging skepticism of some Yesh Atid candidates toward negotiations with Mahmoud Abbas. Zidan was not sure if Lapid had spoken with Netanyahu since the tallies were released, but he spoke to the question of Judea and Samaria.

"We've said all along that we need to keep the (settlement) blocs, but move toward a regional process that allows us to separate from the Palestinians."

"Yesh Atid feels that the bilateral track (for negotiations) has run its course, but we haven't given up on finding a solution."

It remains to be seen what that might entail. Zidan explained it was hardly a matter of who would take over responsibility for governing the Palestinians. It was an issue of concern for Israelis and releasing them from the burden that Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian issue have created.

Two of the party's main religious candidates - Elazar Stern and Rabbi Dov Lipman - are not in the Knesset by the current tallies, but there has been some appeal to Modern Orthodox and Religious Zionist voters given their stance on the Rabbinate and conversion. Zidan said it was difficult to tell just yet how the party did in that sector or how wide a constituency the party might have (or had) in that regard.

Gabe Homa, a party activist who spoke on the party’s behalf in last night’s Arutz Sheva Election Night Panel, mentioned during the broadcast that he indeed represented a religious demographic  that cared about the socioeconomic issues the party champions as much if not more so than issues of religion and state.

“It comes back to ‘Who are you and what are your issues?’ If you’re a young couple, a middle-class couple who’s trying to buy a house or trying to finish the month (financially) . . . then Yesh Atid is definitely a party that people are getting behind, religious or non-religious.

Mr. Homa might also reflect that there are still some socioeconomic issues that resonate as much in the likely main coalition partner Jewish Home as they do in possible opposition party Yesh Atid. As he said during his appearance, Yesh Atid itself could still get along with a new coalition as a revival of the relationship Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett made when forming the previous government.

“A lot of the economic policies passed in the last Knesset were a joint project between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, between the Finance Ministry and the Economy Ministry.”