Haredim and Arabs coordinating in the Knesset?

Head of haredi UTJ party welcomes newfound cooperation with Arab Joint List faction. 'We're doing good business with the Arabs.'

Tzvi Lev ,

UTJ MKs Gafni and Mozes
UTJ MKs Gafni and Mozes
פלאש 90

MK Menachem Eliezer Mozes (United Torah Judaism) admitted that the haredi parties were closely collaborating with the Arab-Israeli Joint List party.

First hints of the unlikely alliance appeared last week after the Shas and UTJ factions opposed the Muezzin Law, which seeks to limit the use of loudspeakers in mosques at times of the day in which they could disturb residents.

On Sunday, Mozes admitted that the haredi factions, both members of the coalition government, were collaborating with the Joint List in order to advance bills that were important to the haredi community.

"We're doing 'business' with the Arabs in order to support laws that are important to the haredi public," Mozes told Radio Kol Hai, adding that the haredi factions had scuttled the Muezzin Law in order to keep the alliance alive, despite supporting an earlier version of the bill in 2016.

"UTJ's earlier support of the Muezzin Bill was a mistake," contended Mozes, who hinted that the haredi parties had torpedoed the bill in order to earn the Joint List's support for the Draft Law granting haredi yeshiva students draft deferments.

"While Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh opposes the Draft Law, there are other Arab parties and we expect cooperation" said Mozes.

There are two versions of the Muezzin Law: One of them, submitted by MK David Bitan (Likud) and MK Motti Yogev (Jewish Home), would prohibit places of worship from using their loudspeakers between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m., as well as limit the decibel level of loudspeakers used during the remaining hours of the day.

The second proposal, submitted by MK Robert Ilatov (Yisrael Beytenu), completely bans all places of worship from using loudspeakers and levies a fine between 5,000 and 10,000 shekels for each violation.

As expected, the bill has been met with great opposition from Arab MKs. MK Ahmed Tibi (Joint List) has called on the Arab public to disobey the law should it pass.

In addition, the Palestinian Authority has expressed its opposition, with chairman Mahmoud Abbas warning the bill “would drag the area to disaster.”

Hamas also joined in on the criticism, with its deputy leader Ismail Haniyeh warning the law would face “stiff resistance”.