The nationalist camp continues to pressure the Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu parties to quit the government, in light of the upcoming Annapolis summit.

MKs of the hareidi-Sephardic Shas Party have been served with papers calling them to a Din Torah - a Torah court lawsuit - regarding their refusal to quit the government.  The plaintiffs claim that Shas is thus enabling the government of which it is a member to proceed with its plans to divide Jerusalem, give away large parts of the Land of Israel, expel tens of thousands of Jews from their homes, and place millions of Israelis in danger of Hamas rockets. 

The Shas MKs have all but ignored the summons.

Rabbi Dov Stein, the secretary of a group of leading rabbis known as the "Sanhedrin," explained to Arutz-7, "We sent three letters, as is required, to the Knesset Members of Shas. One of them responded, apparently in their name, that their decisions are made in consultation with [Rishon LeTzion and former Sephardic Chief] Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, and that certainly no mishaps could come of this.  While this is certainly true, this does not exempt them from responding to our summons to appear before a Rabbinical court." 

Secretary Makes Decision

Rabbi Stein said that it is not customary to rush to declare a party to be in "seruv" - in violation of a Rabbinical court summons, leading to grave social sanctions - and therefore he turned to Rabbi Yosef himself. "We sent him a fax, explaining that we had summoned the MKs to a Din Torah, and offering to have the case heard in his own rabbinical court - with he himself as one of the judges.  However, something extraordinary occurred: His secretary decided, on his own, that he would not even show the fax to Rabbi Yosef!"

"This is unfortunately the case with many leading rabbis," Rabbi Stein said, "where the assistants 'decide' many issues by choosing what to show them.  This is to be regretted - though of course Rabbi Yosef is responsible as well, in that he chose him as his assistant."

"We have other ways to ensure that Rabbi Yosef receives the fax," Rabbi Stein said, though he would not elaborate.

Shas Response

MK Chaim Amsalem, contacted by Arutz-7, said in response, "I received the letters, and I answered what I answered." When pressed to elaborate, he said, "Some modesty on the part of those rabbis would not hurt; everyone knows their halakhic status."  In fact, however, though the status of the Sanhedrin as the supreme Jewish legal body is in dispute, its status as a rabbinical court is not.

When asked if Shas plans to quit the government in light of the fact that Olmert says he plans to give away parts of Jerusalem and other parts of the Land of Israel, MK Amsalem said, "We have discussed this and have come to the conclusion that our presence in the government will help preserve all that is dear to us."

Yisrael Beiteinu, Too

Yisrael Beiteinu, a non-religious right-wing party founded by immigrants from the former Soviet Union, is also in the coalition - and has also been served with a summons to the Sanhedrin rabbinical court. 

Dozens of Yisrael Beiteinu voters arrived at the offices of party leader Avigdor Lieberman, the Minister for Strategic Affairs, and protested the party's continued membership in the government. The protestors held signs in Russian and Hebrew, condemning Lieberman for preferring his ministerial seat instead of the values he advocated during the election campaign - namely, Jerusalem and security. They called upon him to quit the government even before the Annapolis summit.  A similar campaign has been underway for the past two weeks in the Israeli-Russian press and on billboards.                

Yisrael Beiteinu made a minor gesture towards these protestors on Monday when it did not show up in the Knesset to vote for the government in the no-confidence motion.