'A unified haredi party would drive away non-Orthodox voters'

Aryeh Deri explains opposition to joint run with UTJ, saying joint bid would drive away voters who traditional but not strictly observant.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Aryeh Deri
Aryeh Deri
Yisrael Bordogo

Shas chief and Interior Minister Aryeh Deri doubled-down Monday on his refusal to form a united haredi list for the 21st Knesset, saying that an alliance between his Shas party and the United Torah Judaism party would drive away many of Shas’ voters.

With Shas struggling to clear the electoral threshold in some recent polls, coalition leaders, including Binyamin Netanyahu, have suggested Shas run on a joint list with the United Torah Judaism party, ensuring the Shas clears the 3.25% threshold.

While the two parties both represent the haredi sector, Shas’ voters come largely from the Sephardic community, while UTJ’s are primarily Ashkenazi. Unlike UTJ, Shas also benefits from a relatively large base of support among traditional but not strictly observant Sephardic Israelis.

Speaking at the 16th annual Jerusalem Conference, Deri expressed concern that should the two parties run together, these traditional Sephardic voters would be put off by Shas’ union with UTJ.

“During this last term in the Knesset, we worked closely with United Torah Judaism, and even the religious-Zionists, and this will continue. If there are concerns that some specific party won’t cross the electoral threshold, so it is better for them to run together [with another faction] and win as many seats as possible. But if we unite [with UTJ], if could lead to a massive loss of traditional voters.”

During his address at the Jerusalem Conference, Deri renewed his support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, whom he said he would endorse for a fifth term as premier following the April 9th election.

“During this last term, the State of Israel had to deal with many security-related and political challenges – the US, Russia, Syria, Iran, and everything else that’s related to the region. I saw the person who was at the steering wheel – I saw the prime minister at cabinet meetings, and I saw a person whom God did us a favor by putting him in the right place.”

“I’ve been a minister for a long time, and I’ve seen many prime ministers and cabinet ministers, and I see lots of younger [leaders] who want to be prime minister. I say: Wait, give it time, have a little humility. Right now the person who is most suited to be prime minister is Bibi Netanyahu, and so we’re supporting him.”