Will haredi parties join Gantz's coalition talks?

Some haredi lawmakers said to be planning to remain part of right-wing bloc for any coalition talks with Blue & White. Shas still undecided.

Michal Levy ,

Yaakov Litzman and Aryeh Deri
Yaakov Litzman and Aryeh Deri
Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

The United Torah Judaism party will not engage in direct coalition negotiations with the Blue and White party, sources with UTJ said Tuesday morning.

President Reuven Rivlin is expected to tap Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz later this week to form the next coalition government, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu returned the mandate to Rivlin Monday night.

With the current deadlocked Knesset, however, Gantz will be forced to look outside the left-wing – Arab bloc – which won a total of 57 seats, four short of a 61-seat majority – to build a government.

Without support from the predominantly Arab Joint List party’s 13-member Knesset delegation, even the inclusion of Avidgor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party and its eight seats, Gantz would be unable to reach the 61 seats needed for a majority.

Gantz may turn to the two haredi parties – Shas and United Torah Judaism – which received a total of 16 seats in the September election.

Both parties are currently part of the 55-MK bloc formed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after the election, with the aim of serving as a united front for coalition negotiations, ensuring the inclusion of all the factions involved if a new government is formed with the Likud.

Sources in the United Torah Judaism party say that if invited to join coalition talks with the Blue and White party, they intend to remain within the right-wing bloc, and will tell Blue and White that the Likud’s negotiating team will represent them in coalition talks.

Shas, however, is reportedly undecided on how it will respond if invited to coalition talks with the Blue and White party.

MK Yaakov Asher (UTJ) said in an interview Tuesday with Radio Kol Chai that ultimately, Blue and White would have to reject Yisrael Beytenu’s demand not to include haredi parties or the Jewish Home – National Union party if Gantz is to form a new government and avoid a third round of elections.

“In the end, in this situation, either people will compromise and form a real coalition government that represents everyone – including the haredim and right-wing and religious groups which have been labelled ‘Messianic’ – or we will end up with a third round of elections.”