A source in United Torah Judaism (UTJ) is unimpressed by recent initiatives to create a united hareidi front in the upcoming elections.
The initiatives are reportedly being advanced by a hareidi businessman-philanthropist, and have also been floated by the highly esteemed Rabbi Reuven Elbaz.
The UTJ source said that a united party would only make sense if it included Eli Yishai's party as well as Rabbi Auerbach's Bnei Torah faction, which broke off from UTJ.
"What is happening now is a political move by [Shas leader Aryeh] Deri to take the focus off of his patry's crash in the polls, in the name of unity,” the source said. “There is no intention to unify the lines, other than cheap politics that are intended to hide his failure to raise the morale among the Sephardic populace in the 'periphery' areas, and among the voters who heard Rabbi Ovadia Yosef speaking harshly about Deri.”
The source said that unity should first be achieved within Shas. “If Deri wants unity, fine. Let him create unity in Shas, let him reach understandings with Eli Yishai, then we will try to unite the ranks with the Bnei Torah public. Why is that not happening? Where is the flag of unity?”
The source added that if Shas achieves internal unity, it would indeed be proper to consider Ashkenazi-Sephardic unity as well – but he estimated that the chance of this happening is slim.
A united party of hareidim would win 20 seats in the next election, according to a poll conducted by the Maagor Mohot Institute for the Makor Rishon newspaper. The scenario called for a unification of Shas, UTJ and Eli Yishai’s Yachad - Ha’am Itanu.
Respondents to the poll were also asked who or what they thought was the cause for the dramatic decline in Shas’s power.
Most respondents said they believe that Shas’s decline, as exemplified by recent polls, is due to a lack of spiritual leadership like that of the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef ztz"l.