MK Moshe Gafni
MK Moshe Gafni Israel news photo: Flash 90

Many political commentators and activists have wondered at the alliance between the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party and Yesh Atid. Now MKs have revealed an alliance that, on the surface of things, may seem even more unlikely: strong ties between the hareidi-religious Yahadut Hatorah (United Torah Judaism) faction and the left-wing, secularist Meretz party.

Yahadut Hatorah head MK Moshe Gafni and Meretz head MK Zahava Gal-On recently spoke to Al-Monitor about the alliance.

The Yahadut Hatorah-Meretz partnership had a real effect on the national budget, Gafni said. “Many things changed, thanks to our joint struggle on the budget. The initial plan was much more draconian,” he explained.

“Yair Lapid, after all, reads what the media is saying and acts accordingly,” he said, adding, “I was taking care of the middle class when Lapid was still a radio announcer.”

The alliance is not limited to the budget, he added, “It’s true that we have disagreements on the topic of religion and state, but besides that there is hardly anything. It could be that in Meretz they are extreme about the diplomatic process, and I am less so. But I am not the Likud Party… I support a diplomatic process. We are not the right.”

Gal-On, too, said the joint work between the two parties has had a real impact. “As a result of our joint struggle we succeeded in removing some troublesome elements from the budget,” she said.

She and Gafni have known each other for many years, she continued, “I have great esteem for him.”

“Gafni knows that I support the separation of religion and state, pluralism, and a core curriculum — on all these issues we have deep divisions, and we didn’t touch them. We went only with the social issues and presented a model for an alternative budget,” she explained.

Gafni said, “What I most want is for this government to become a thing of the past. In politics you pick your partners according to your goals.”