Shas Lists Demands to Restart Coalition Talks

Deri tells press conference he won't return to talks with Likud without at 0% VAT on basic goods and a 'social toolbox,' after UTJ deal.

Ido Ben-Porat, Ari Yashar ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

After a breakdown in coalition talks between his party and Likud, Shas chairperson Aryeh Deri announced on Tuesday evening what his conditions will be to return to the negotiating table.

"The Shas movement raised the social banner during the elections campaign for two million 'invisible' people," Deri told journalists at a media conference, using the "invisible" slogan from elections by which his party claimed it would fight for the lower social classes.

According to the head of the Sephardic haredi party, "without leading the 0% VAT (value added tax - ed.) on basic goods and receiving ministries that will be a 'social toolbox' to implement the social policy we obligated to, we won't return to the discussion table."

Deri's announcement comes just hours after the Ashkenazic haredi party United Torah Judaism (UTJ) reached a coalition agreement draft with Likud on Tuesday afternoon.

The draft is to be brought before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and UTJ's rabbinical council, and is expected to receive a final signing either later Tuesday night or else Wednesday morning.

Among the agreements that UTJ was able to achieve in the talks is a cancellation of the cut in budgets for yeshiva Torah academies which the outgoing coalition government implemented, as well as a freeze on the controversial conversion law.

UTJ also demanded a return of the reform to subsidize dental care, which was initiated by UTJ MK Ya'akov Litzman when he served as deputy health minister and which was cancelled by the outgoing government. It likewise requested an increase in child benefit stipends.

As for the controversial enlistment law compelling haredim to enlist into the IDF or face criminal sanctions, the topic is anticipated to remain purposely vague so as not to cause the High Court to get involved and torpedo any portions of the coalition agreements.